DUBAI: In what came as a pleasant surprise, the Indian and Pakistani players walked in together to train at the ICC Academy on the eve of their high-voltage clash in the ICC T20 World Cup.
It might be billed as the mother of all battles, but the mood among the players revealed a sense of calmness as both teams trained under lights on Saturday. The Indian boys started with a game of football as Virat Kohli, Mohammad Shami and Rishabh Pant seemed to have fun warming up.
Jasprit Bumrah and MS Dhoni though didn’t waste any time in reaching the training nets. While Bumrah and Dhoni chatted with Bharat Arun, R Ashwin was seen training in the adjacent net. Bumrah soon changed nets and headed in to join Ashwin. The overall atmosphere clearly showed a sense of calmness that Dhoni has brought into the squad despite the upcoming game being billed as the game of the tournament.
Speaking to ANI, a source in the know of developments in the team management had said Dhoni’s addition as a mentor for the T20 World Cup has been a huge positive with the former skipper’s room being the go-to place for everyone, be it for serious talks or banter to help relax the mind before the first game of the tournament.
“We start with the game against Pakistan and Dhoni’s presence has seen the whole dressing room wear a calm look. His room is obviously the bonding zone for the players and you can always expect him to come up with the answers to the queries of the youngsters and it hasn’t been any different this time going into the T20 World Cup.
“This team has some of the most talented players in the country, but the big-match experience is something that can only come with time and there isn’t much of that in this team apart from the likes of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Shami and a couple of others. The youngsters need that big brother figure in the team to give them a calming influence when they walk out to the middle,” the source explained.
The Indian players have been training smart for the opening game against Pakistan and even won both their warm-up games — against England and Australia. Having played the IPL in the UAE, the Indian players know the conditions well and will definitely hold an edge come Sunday.
Shaheen Afridi – bowling to Virat Kohli
Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi, who stole the show on Sunday with his brilliant bowling against India, said he bowled to India skipper Virat Kohli just like he used to do to Babar Azam in the nets.
Shaheen Afridi got the better of Rohit Sharma (0) and KL Rahul (3) and India were reduced to 6/2 in the third over before he dismissed Kohli in the 19th over. “Had planned to dismiss Virat but he is a number one player. There is no difference in the batting of Babar and Virat. I just bowled how I used to bowl Babar in nets. I didn’t get the swing in my third over so I tried to hit the good length or bowl a slower cutter,” said Shaheen Afridi in the post-match press conference.
The Pakistan pacer stole the show with his tight bowling in the powerplay as India looked almost clueless after losing Rohit and Rahul.
Shaheen revealed it was the first time in his career that he bowled three overs in the powerplay and also said he had planned to dismiss Rohit.
“It is the first time that I’ve bowled three overs in the powerplay and the ball was moving, so I wanted to give a breakthrough to my team and the conditions were such that the ball was moving. I just tried and got results,” said Shaheen while replying to a query from ANI.
“Bowling yorker with a new ball is my strength and I always try to provide a breakthrough to my side. I had planned to dismiss Rohit and it paid off,” he added.
Mohammad Rizwan and Babar put on a remarkable show on Sunday as Pakistan thrashed India by 10 wickets at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Rizwan (79*) and Babar (68*) didn’t give any chance to India bowlers to come on top as the two batsmen dominated the proceedings. Pakistan chased down the target of 152 without losing a wicket as India looked clueless in their opening match.
Before this game, Pakistan had failed to beat India in the history of the men’s World Cup but the Babar-led side came out with flying colours on Sunday on the back of some sensational performance after Shaheen’s show with the ball. (ANI)