Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is confident that his team’s familiarity with Sri Lankan conditions will give them the upper hand against India in the upcoming Asia Cup Super 4 encounter in Colombo. A number of Pakistani players have been actively involved in Sri Lanka, including the Test series in July, the Lanka Premier League, and bilateral ODIs against Afghanistan, which should provide them with valuable experience in the local conditions.
India, on the other hand, did take part in both of their Asia Cup matches in Sri Lanka but faced rain-forced disruptions. In their opening match against Pakistan, only one innings was possible as India scored 266 before rain ensured no further action in Pallekele. At the same venue, rain forced deduction in overs as India were given a revised target in 23 overs, which they chased with all wickets intact.
Babar believes that the recent months of experience of playing in Pakistan will benefit the side as it chases a final berth in the competition.
“Given the continuous cricket we are playing both in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, you can say that we hold an edge (over India),” said Babar in the pre-match press conference.
“We have been playing here in Sri Lanka for the past two months or so. We have played Tests, we played a series against Afghanistan and then the LPL… So it can be said that we have an advantage.”
Pakistan had registered a convincing seven-wicket win in their first match of the Super 4 stage against Bangladesh in Lahore; it was the last game of the tournament in Pakistan. All of the remaining matches in Super 4 stage will take place in Colombo, where rain threat looms large on almost all match-days. In fact, the Asian Cricket Council confirmed the provision of a reserve day for the India vs Pakistan clash on September 10, keeping in mind a 90% precipitation forecast on the day.
Traveling not an issue
Pakistan played their Asia Cup 2023 opener in Multan before flying to Sri Lanka the very next day for their final group game against India. Babar Azam’s men flew back to Pakistan again, this time in Lahore, to play in their Super 4 game against Bangladesh before returning to the island nation. The back-and-forth air travel is bound to take a toll on the players but Babar believes that it can’t be an excuse, as the schedule was available to everyone well in advance.
“We always knew the schedule and how much we have to travel. So, it’s become important how we look after our players. We have planned everything well,” he said.