The most anticipated fixture of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup group stage takes place in Manchester on Sunday, 16 June, when India take on Pakistan.
However India’s captain, Virat Kohli, is aiming to take the heat out of the occasion; he wants India to focus on what they can do, not think about the opposition, and keep things “simple”.
“We know that they have a lot of talent in their team, but we know that if we play well, then we play really well as a team,” he said. "We saw that in the first two games that we played, very clinical performances, and we just focused on exactly what we need to do.
“We're not focusing on the opposition, so for us no-one's a threat. For us, no one player matters more than the other for us. It's about going into the park as the Indian cricket team and taking on whichever team is in front of us. If we play well, we can beat any side in the world. If you don't play well, teams are going to come out and beat you. That's how simple the game of cricket is, and it should be.”
This will be the first match played at Old Trafford during this World Cup, so conditions will be something of an unknown. Kohli thinks his team will have to be able to adapt depending on what they are confronted with.
“We have to be flexible. We can't be rigid in our approach because if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we'll have to think of different combinations, which areas to strengthen when it comes to the bowling attack. If pace becomes a more important option, then we'll look to explore that.”
Though this is a huge game for fans of both teams, Kohli says that he and his team “can’t get too emotional”, despite the grand stage and the global attention.
“I can't tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner. For us, it's a professional approach to the game. We can't get too emotional or too over excited with any occasion. So obviously, the mindset of the player is always going to be different from the fans. You can't mix the two. You can't expect the fans to think in a professional manner, focusing on each ball. Our attention span has to be very precise on the field because we have that split second to make a decision.”
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