LAHORE: Fakhar Zaman acknowledged there will be added pressure when Pakistan and India square off in their Asia Cup 2018 encounter on 19 September.
The last time the arch-rivals faced off was in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, when Zaman played a masterful knock of 114 to set up a comprehensive 180-run victory for his side.
For all the confidence Pakistan gained from that, Zaman admitted playing India would come with significant pressure. “Normally, any match you play at the international level, there’s a lot of pressure. And when it comes to an India-Pakistan game, the pressure is more intense. I’ve experienced that once,” he said.
“It would be wrong to say that there won’t be any pressure. It’ll be on their bowlers as well. It’ll be a matter of (which side) keeps their nerves calm, and who seizes the moment. Everything depends on the match situation, and hopefully, we’ll be the better side on the day.”
With Virat Kohli, the India captain, rested for the Asia Cup, Pakistan have an advantage. But Zaman wasn’t letting his guard down.
“India are a world-class side, and I don’t think it’ll make that big a difference for them to not have (Virat) Kohli in the side. Kohli is an exceptional player, but India is a good side anyway. So we hope you’ll get to see a good contest,” said Zaman.
Pakistan have another factor going for them – with the tournament being staged in the United Arab Emirates, they have a ‘home’ advantage of sorts. “We’ve been playing in UAE for quite a few years now, so that’s a plus point for us, those have become our home grounds, so it’ll be an advantage for us,” said Zaman.
Zaman’s focus, however, will remain on scoring runs at the top of the order with Imam-ul-Haq, his opening partner. The left-hand batsman, who recently broke the one-day international record for fewest innings to 1000 runs, joked that he and Imam were not keen on giving the middle order much to do.
“Whenever our middle order gets an opportunity, they bat well,” he said. “They’re in great nick and it shows in the way they are playing in the nets as well. But our goal will be to play long innings, and not give the middle order too many opportunities to bat in the Asia Cup.
“Imam and I have opened together for a long time, including in domestic cricket. We have developed a good mutual understanding, the calling has become very good, we understand each other’s game because we’ve played with each other for 4-5 years now.”