What Indian players are thinking as they prepare for T20 WC clash against Pakistan?

Ahead of the high-stakes encounter in the T20 World Cup 2024, several stars of the Indian cricket team shared their thoughts on the significance of this iconic match

What Indian players are thinking as they prepare for T20  WC clash against Pakistan? PHOTO: AFP

The much-anticipated showdown between arch-rivals India and Pakistan is set to light up the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York today

Ahead of the high-stakes encounter in the T20 World Cup 2024, several stars of the Indian cricket team shared their thoughts on the significance of this iconic match. Star Sports posted a video on X (formerly Twitter), featuring insights from key Indian players who expressed their feelings about the upcoming clash.

Virat Kohli, the former Indian captain, emphasized the universal nature of the game, regardless of the teams involved. He added that the unique atmosphere of an India-Pakistan match elevates the players' performance, making it a special occasion.

“For me its as simple as knowing that the game does not know which team is playing on the park, we are different countries, we have different jerseys, but the game only knows the basics and you reap the rewards of hard work.It’s the environment within the stadium that elevates your performances differently, and that happens in the case when we play against Pakistan,” Kohli said.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma downplayed the hype, urging his teammates to approach the game with a calm mindset.

“Preparation actually, even if we are not playing against them, we still prepare against them. This is just another game for the players, we can’t think that this is a big match, of course every World Cup you play is a big game but we can’t treat this as something different. We just have to treat this as another game that we are playing and we have to win it,” Rohit said.

Hardik Pandya, known for his all-round skills, spoke about his success against Pakistan in the past. He also highlighted the importance of a balanced approach.

“Pakistan has been one team where I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve been able to do well in a lot of games and all those times I was able to do well was not because I was overly excited, it was the fact that I was excited enough but at the same point I was calm and I took the right calls, what is required rather than doing what I wanted to do, and I think in that process I guess I’ve been able to be quite consistent in that and I hope that I continue that,” Hardik said.

Rishabh Pant India's dynamic wicketkeeper-batter, expressed the emotional weight of the game. 

“It’s very exciting match because this is a very special match. We do play cricket, but there are some proud moments for every country and a different environment and we actually feel more pressure in this game because these are such matches which are remembered by people for a very long time so its fun playing this game,” Rishabh said.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal downplayed the hype, focusing on maintaining a steady mindset. 

“There is no difference among the team members while talking but if you talk with your friends on social media so you automatically feel pressure because they want you to perform well in that match specifically. According to me, if we are playing against Pakistan or Zimbabwe, my mindset and my plans that we discuss in the meeting or in ground after looking at the situation that how to bowl are the same. Instead of discussing that this match is against Pakistan or against Australia, you should focus on how to bowl those four overs of yours, what’s your plan and what does the team want you to do,” Yuzvendra said.

Kuldeep Yadav another key spinner, shared his experience of dealing with pressure. 

“Actually, we do not play a lot with Pakistan so fans expect a lot from the team and we also expect a lot, motivation is not required because people at home makes you mod-fit. I don’t’ expect anything from myself but fans do expect a lot. I used to feel under-pressure when I played my first match against Pakistan back in 2018, but gradually I got used to it,” Kuldeep said.

Fast bowler Mohammad Siraj spoke about the unique excitement surrounding the match and reminisced about the thrilling atmosphere of these encounters.

“Since childhood we’ve seen the excitement for the match between Pakistan and India, so this feeling is different. Last time when we played match against Pakistan in the ODI World Cup so that feeling, environment is totally different. I’m really excited to experience that match,” Siraj said.

Ravindra Jadeja the seasoned all-rounder, discussed the heightened expectations from fans.

“The environment created by the people in which they want India to win stays for a day or two, they believe that the match is against Pakistan and some extra efforts are required. Pakistan is an international team and has good players and every team gave their 100% and the team that plays well win the game,” Jadeja said.

Lastly, Shivam Dube reflected on his memories of watching India-Pakistan matches and the fine line between confidence and overconfidence.

“I’ve seen the match between Pakistan and India a lot of times on TV, so it was fun watching that. There’s a lot of excitement but there is a slight difference between confidence and over-confidence some acts might be a result of over-confidence. The main aim is to focus on your process, Shivam said. 

As the teams prepare to face off in what promises to be a thrilling contest, both sets of players and fans alike are brimming with anticipation, eager to see who will emerge victorious in this iconic cricketing rivalry.