Pallekele (Sri Lanka), Sept 1: Ahead of India’s opening match in the Asia Cup against arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday, captain Rohit Sharma insisted that his team has to play at its best in the competition and focus on getting things right on-field as any side is capable of beating anyone on any given day.
"There are six very competitive teams in the Asia Cup and on a given day anyone can beat anyone. Rivalry is there for people to talk about. As a team, what we see is we have an opposition to play tomorrow and see what we want to do. What is going to help us is to keep doing the right things on the field," he said in the pre-match press conference.
Pakistan recently became the top-ranked ODI team and came into the highly-anticipated clash on the back of thrashing Nepal by 238 runs in the tournament opener in Multan. Rohit stated that his batters will bank on their experience to counter a fiery fast-bowling challenge from the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
"Pakistan have played really well in recent times in both T20Is and ODIs. They worked really hard to be No.1 and it'll be a good challenge for us tomorrow. Look, in the nets, we don't have Shaheen, Naseem or Rauf. We practice with who we have. They are all quality bowlers. We just have to use our experience to play them tomorrow."
With the Asia Cup being a preparatory tournament ahead of the Men’s ODI World Cup in India, Rohit stressed being in the present and taking things one step at a time. "We try to keep our goals small and see what's in front of us. We have Pakistan to face tomorrow and we will focus on that first and then look ahead."
"We have given time to many players, and they have another opportunity in a tournament where six teams play. The issues we want to address, we have addressed. Now we want to focus on doing well in these games."
What will also help India is that their fast-bowling line-up is at full strength, especially with pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah set to make his first ODI appearance since July 2022. Bumrah was the captain and player of the series in India’s 2-0 T20I series win over Ireland, making a successful return to international cricket after a back injury and surgery kept him out for 11 months.
"All six bowlers are great bowlers without a doubt, and they have proved to the world how good they are. Bumrah, Shami and Siraj all are good, especially Bumrah. He is coming off an injury, but he played in Ireland and looked good after a long time."
"He also looked good in the small little camp we had in Bengaluru and he’s in good spirits, which is a good sign for us. So as Siraj & Shami, who have handled the bowling mantle well for us in the past few years now, so hope they all keep themselves fresh throughout the next two months."
Rohit also made it clear that India wasn’t seeing the Asia Cup as a fitness test, citing that all formalities were done during the short camp in Bengaluru before the team’s departure to Sri Lanka for the ongoing continental competition.
“By no means, this tournament is a fitness test. This tournament, the Asia Cup is played between six top teams in Asia and it’s a very big tournament without a doubt with its rich history."
"So, all the fitness tests and camps were done in Bengaluru without a doubt. Now we have to move ahead and get our game face on, to try and see what we can achieve in this tournament." (IANS)