Sarfraz, Rohit promise blockbuster India-Pakistan clash

Captains of India Rohit Sharma, left, and Pakistan Sarfraz Ahmed listen to a question from a journalist during a press conference ahead of Asia Cup cricket at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP)
Updated 18 September 2018

Sarfraz, Rohit promise blockbuster India-Pakistan clash

  • The game is the first between the sub-continent rivals since Pakistan thumped India by 180 runs in the final of the Champions Trophy at The Oval in June last year
  • The two teams are facing each other for the first time in the United Arab Emirates since 2006, the last of their regular matches which were also held in Sharjah between 1984-2000

ABU DHABI: Rival captains Sarfraz Ahmed and Rohit Sharma played down the hype surrounding the much-awaited India-Pakistan clash in Dubai on Wednesday, insisting that the Asia Cup is much more than a contest between the arch-rivals.
But despite their claims, millions of fans across the border and elsewhere in the world will be watching the Group A clash, with a sold-out 25,000-crowd expected at Dubai Stadium.
The game is the first between the sub-continent rivals since Pakistan thumped India by 180 runs in the final of the Champions Trophy at The Oval in June last year.
The two teams are facing each other for the first time in the United Arab Emirates since 2006, the last of their regular matches which were also held in Sharjah between 1984-2000.
Sarfraz, who led Pakistan in that memorable Champions Trophy triumph, denied that his team will have a psychological advantage.
“We will not take that Champions Trophy win in our minds,” said Sarfraz on Monday, a day after his team thumped qualifiers Hong Kong in their first match of the tournament.
“That was a different atmosphere (in London) and conditions. It was a year ago so that’s history so we will enter the ground with a new strategy and passion.”
India will also meet Hong Kong in Dubai on Tuesday to tune up for the big match. India’s regular captain and world-class batsman Virat Kohli has been rested for the competition to help his aching back after a grueling tour of England.
But Sarfraz refused to accept Kohli’s absence will make much difference.
“No doubt he (Kohli) is their captain and a world-class batsman but I think they (India) have a good team even without Kohli.
“They have good players who have done well for India. So I don’t think it will make much difference to India. Their batting is very strong so I can say that it will be a good match.”
Sarfraz has told his players just to enjoy the occasion.
“My message to the players is not to bother about the result and do (their) best and when you do that you get a positive result in all matches because there are five other teams as well,” he said.
Five-time Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in Group B.
India have won the event — which started in 1984 — six times, while Pakistan have been champions twice.
Two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Four stage, with the top two to reach the September 28 final.
So barring any upsets against Hong Kong, India and Pakistan will also face off again in the Super Four on September 23.
India skipper Sharma said his team will be looking beyond Pakistan.
“It’s always exciting to play Pakistan, but it’s not about one team as well. There are other teams also eyeing the title,” said Sharma, who has the rare record of scoring three one-day international double hundreds.
All six teams have to endure extreme hot conditions in the UAE, with the temperature scaling to over 40 degrees Celsius and expected to rise further in the coming days.
Sharma said his side will get a chance to assess the conditions in their match against Hong Kong.
“Once we finish the first game we will look at Pakistan, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Looking at the pitch, I think we have the perfect combination and the guys to do the job.
“A few players have come from England so it’s going to be a challenge for them.
“For the rest of us, we have been here for the last four days so I can probably say we are very much used to the conditions.
“It’s game time, so we have to focus on the game rather than the conditions.”


De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

Updated 15 December 2019

De Silva hundred in rain-hit historic Pakistan Test

  • Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five
  • The second Test will be played in Karachi from December 19

RAWALPINDI: Middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva completed his century on the fifth and final day against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Sunday, the first Test in the country since 2009 shooting.
The 28-year-old right-hander drove paceman Mohammad Abbas to cover boundary for his 15th boundary to complete his sixth Test hundred in his 28th Test.
Sri Lanka, who had won the toss and batted, declared their first innings at 308-6 after 20 minutes of batting on day five as the rain-affected Test is set to end in a draw after almost three days of play were lost.
De Silva remained unbeaten on 102 after 241 minutes of batting, having come at the score of 127-4 on Thursday. He hit 15 boundaries. Dilruwan Perera remained unbeaten on 16.
Any hopes of a result in Pakistan’s historic Test have been dashed by rain and bad light which ended the first day’s play after 68.1 overs.
Only 18.2 overs were possible on day two, 5.2 on the third and the fourth day’s play was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The pick of the Pakistan bowlers were 16-year-old pace bowler Naseem Shah who took 2-92 and Shaheen Shah Afridi with 2-58.
The Test is the first in Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus killed eight people in March 2009, leading to the suspension of international cricket in the country as foreign teams refused to visit over security fears.
The second Test is in Karachi from December 19.