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T20 World Cup 2024: India v Pakistan – Kirsten ups the ante ahead of crunch clash

Pakistan coach Gary Kirsten has told his players to embrace the magnitude of their T20 World Cup clash with India today.

The age-old rivals – both politically and on the sporting field – meet in New York with Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying from the initial group stage already hanging in the balance following their stunning opening-match defeat to the United States.

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Defeat to India would leave their chances in serious peril – adding another layer of spice to what is already one of the greatest rivalries in world sport.

It adds up to a big day for the Pakistan players and Kirsten, who has also coached India in the past, feels it would be naive to deny that.

The South African said: “Don’t hide from the fact that it’s a big game, but to treat cricket like cricket should be treated. 

“Every game you need to play well, you need to hit the ball in the right areas, you need to score enough runs, you need to take your catches and field well. I don’t think it’s ever changed the game. It changes a little bit because of the formats, but that’s certainly what we’re going to go out and try to do. 

“If we play a really good game of cricket with our abilities, we have a good chance of winning the game.”

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India captain Rohit Sharma took the exact opposite approach in trying to play down the significance of the occasion – citing the regularity with which they have played over recent months.

He said: “Nothing has changed from last seven months because we played them in the Asia Cup, the ODI World Cup, and now the T20 World Cup. 

“Earlier it was a different ball game because we used to play them every maybe once in four years, or two years, now it’s a different ball game. We literally played seven months back in Asia Cup and the World Cup and here we are again now.

“So, for me, I think nothing changes. I want to approach this as another international game where I get myself collected and make those decisions on the field. I am sure everyone will have their own way of dealing with games like these, but I have my process. 

“Being a captain, I have to make decisions on the field. So, I think what’s more important for me is to just think about what I need to do right now, or this particular over – not to even think of how much do we need to get after 20 overs, or how much we need to bowl them out for. 

“I think it’s about that one over, how we want to finish that over, staying in the present, and literally just nailing down maybe over by over, and think about what you need to do in that particular over, and that is where the skill of captain comes into play.

“I’m sure other captains think differently. Everyone has their own way but this is how I like to think about that one particular over. Because this is literally a place where you can’t think too far ahead. 

“The game changes every over here. So, you need to think about that particular over and how you can win that one over and then move on to the next over. I know there’s a lot of thinking that needs to go in this kind of thought process, but I’m okay with that.”

India crushed Ireland in their Group A opener, and also saw off Bangladesh in a tournament warm-up game, with both matches staged in New York.

The drop-in pitch has caused plenty of debate but Rohit denied suggestions his side could benefit from a greater knowledge of the conditions.

He added: “New York is not our house. We have only spent four to six days here. It rained for three days, so we did not practise. We don’t know what pitch we will get, and we don’t know how it will play.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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