PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam does not think lack of familiarity with Indian conditions would hurt their bid for a second ODI World Cup title as they embarked on a rare tour of the neighbouring country on Tuesday (26).
Bilateral cricket remains suspended between the two sides, thanks to their soured political relations. The last time Pakistan played in India was for the T20 World Cup in 2016.
Pakistan players do not feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL) either, which means most of them would have little knowledge of the conditions they are going to face during the showpiece event beginning next Thursday (5).
In his pre-departure press conference, Babar, 28, dismissed suggestions it increased the pressure on his team to do well across the border.
“There’s no such pressure,” Azam said as his team prepared to leave for India via Dubai. “Every player keeps himself ready to perform in every condition, in every country.
“Most of us have not played in India but the information we have gathered suggest conditions are going to be similar, except in Chennai maybe, where spinners get more help.
“The rest of the venues will have good, sporting tracks.
“I played the 2019 World Cup as a player but this time I’m leading the side. It’s a big honour for me and our effort would be to perform well and bring home the World Cup.”
The difficulty in securing visas for India means Pakistan would not get much support from the stands either, but Babar was not perturbed.
“Unfortunately, we will be missing the fans,” Pakistan’s batting mainstay said. “However, our games are all sold out, so we will be playing in jampacked stadiums.
“Although our fans will not be there, I know they will make sure their love is heard on social media.”
Pakistan will play two warm-up matches in Hyderabad before beginning their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands next Friday (6). They will face India in the more than 130,000-seat stadium in Ahmedabad on October 14.
“Everyone who travelled to India before told me they got huge love in India, so we expect the same,” he said. “I don’t think our fans will sit silent, they will back us on social media and other platforms and pray for our win.