It's time for another India-Pakistan encounter on a cricket field. On Tuesday (January 30), the South Asian arch-rivals will have a showdown in the second semi-final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
Ahead of the all-important knockout match, legendary batsman and India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid has said that he is excited with the prospect of his wards’ participation in such a high voltage contest.
In a video posted by ICC on their official Twitter page, Dravid can be seen explaining what it's really like for an Indian to face Pakistan in a cricket match and how Prithvi Shaw and company will approach the game.
“Our preparation and our planning doesn’t change at all. We don’t approach this game any differently from how we would any other game. We still approach it to play good cricket, try and execute our skills and hopefully the result will fall our way,” Dravid was quoted as saying in the video
“But from an experience perspective, I’m excited about it. The fact that, irrespective of the results, we get our Under 19 boys to understand what it’s like to play an India-Pakistan game. At this level, it is all about experiences,” the batting great further added.
As far as U-19 World Cup is concerned – India and Pakistan have not faced each other since 2014 and Dravid feels that it is good for the tournament to set up a high-octane clash like this.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to, in a way, set up an India-Pakistan game as well. There is a different buzz about it in the sense that we know that the game is followed probably a little bit more closely than some of the other games we have,” Dravid said.
“For the last couple of years, we haven’t played Pakistan at this level, so it’s really nice for our boys to have that experience of actually playing against Pakistan,” he added.
During his 16-year long cricket career, Dravid had come up against the Pakistanis on quite a few occasions and managed to leave an impression as well.
Describing his personal experience, the 45-year-old said: “Every game was important, but it’s just that you knew it was one of the most followed games in the world.”
“For people it meant a lot more. As players, it doesn’t really change things, it doesn’t change how you practice and prepare. From my perspective, I really enjoyed playing Pakistan, they had a really good team in my time and had some great cricketers. It was always a privilege to play against them. We got on quite well with a lot of the Pakistani boys. It was always great to play them, we won sometimes, we lost sometimes, but we always came away with great experiences,” he explained.
India U-19 team have registered victories in all of their 3 group matches against Australia, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe. Moreover, they thrashed Bangladesh U-19 in the quarter-final clash by 131 runs. However, Dravid expects India to be tested by the Hasan Khal led Pakistan U-19 unit in the semi-final.
“They bowled very well in this tournament, their strength is their bowling and they’ve shown that,” he said.
“We’ve batted well in this tournament so it’s going to be a good contest and we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to competing against a good bowling attack.
“I thought the Bangladeshi attack was really disciplined, Australia had a couple of decent quicks, so we’ve played some good bowlers in this tournament. But we do recognise that this Pakistani bowling attack is a good one, we respect that, and hopefully we’ll be well prepared and we’ll execute our skills well tomorrow,” concluded Dravid.
Here’s the video: