The experience of playing the IPL in the UAE could hold the Virat Kohli-led team in “good stead” in its much-anticipated ICC T20 World Cup clash against arch-rivals Pakistan, reckons former India batter Suresh Raina.
One of the favourites to lift the title, India will begin their campaign in the T20 showpiece against Pakistan here on Sunday.
Heading into the game, India enjoys an all-win record in the tournament against Pakistan.
“Thanks to the IPL, our team has a lot of experience of playing in the UAE and dealing with the conditions there which should stand them in good stead,” Raina wrote in a column for the ICC.
The Indian team possesses a good mix of youth and experience with many of them capable of winning a match on their own.
The Indian players are coming into the tournament after featuring in the second leg of the IPL, which was held in the UAE after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event out of their country.
Raina knows both skippers Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are very passionate and love to lead from the front.
“This year, it will be exciting as both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are excellent leaders, and knowing how important the game is, there will be so much passion on show from both teams.
“You know that the captains will set the example on that front, and that passion filters through to the rest of the team,” he said.
“Babar is one of the leading T20I batters in the world. Like Virat Kohli, he is proof that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand.”
Pakistan will be looking to prove a point after their failure to win against India in the previous attempts.
“It’s going to be a very good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another. They are both really competitive guys who know what the rivalry is all about,” Raina said.
While the pressure of being involved in an India-Pakistan World Cup game is immense, Rain said it’s all about remaining composed and focussed on the task at hand.
“You need to make sure you calm your nerves, focus on the process and play 40 overs of good cricket. It’s easier said than done, but it’s the only way to try to win that game.
“It’s all about handling the pressure and enjoying the game – if you can. That’s what India have always done over the years, and tried to go out and do it for our country.”
On the big game, the former India left-handed batter added, “The fans have enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it is cricket at its best.
“It has come down the generations from Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Sourav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq, MS Dhoni and now we have Kohli and Babar.
“It’s a great legacy to have and I hope we get another game to remember,” Raina said.
Raina himself has been a part of India-Pakistan World Cup matches — both T20 and ODI — in the past.
“My experience in matches against Pakistan was that they always played their hearts out.
“I was involved in the games in 2014 and 2016. If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game. In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is.”