Suresh Raina lauded Babar Azam, and marked him as a proof for the notion that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand,ahead of the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup 2021 clash on Sunday, October 24. He further added that India will be at advantage, having played the IPL in the UAE recently.
India will face Pakistan in their T20 World Cup 2021 opener in Dubai on Sunday, October 24. The last time these two teams were up against each other in T20 World Cup was in 2016, when India won by six wickets at Eden Gardens. Overall, India maintain a 100 percent win record over their sub-continent rivals in both ODI and T20 World Cups, with seven and five wins respectively.
The two captains, Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, ranked fourth and second respectively in T20I Batting Rankings, are expected to play a major role for their teams. Suresh Raina praised the two "excellent leaders", as he looked up to the high-octane clash.
“This year, it will be exciting as both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are excellent leaders, and knowing how important the game is, there will be so much passion on show from both teams. You know that the captains will set the example on that front and that passion filters through to the rest of the team. Babar is one of the leading T20I batters in the world. Like Virat Kohli, he is proof that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand,” Raina wrote in his column for ICC.
Raina believed that Babar, leading the side for the first time in a major tournament, will provide with a good and competitive contest with Kohli on Sunday.
“On the other hand, the fact that Babar has senior players around him like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will help him because this is still the first major tournament in which he is captaining the team. It's going to be a very good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another. They are both really competitive guys who know what the rivalry is all about,” Raina wrote.
The 34-year-old also reflected on India's experienced squad, and stated that playing in the UAE at the IPL 2021 recently will benefit the team.
“The good thing from an Indian perspective is that there is a really strong line-up of experienced players with Virat joined by Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja as leaders of the team. Thanks to the IPL, our team has a lot of experience of playing in the UAE and dealing with the conditions there which should stand them in good stead,” he added.
Raina, who was a part of India's wins against Pakistan at the 2011 and 2015 ODI World Cups and in 2012, 2014 and 2016 editions of T20 World Cup, shared his experience of playing against the arch-rivals in major tournaments..
“When India and Pakistan play, it's always exciting and good for fans to watch. I was involved in the games in 2014 and 2016. If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game. In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is. You need to make sure you calm your nerves, focus on the process and play 40 overs of good cricket. It's easier said than done, but it's the only way to try to win that game. It's all about handling the pressure and enjoying the game – if you can. That's what India has always done over the years, and tried to go out and do it for our country,” he wrote.
“The fans have enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it is cricket at its best. It has come down the generations from Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Sourav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq, MS Dhoni and now we have Kohli and Babar. It's a great legacy to have and I hope we get another game to remember,” he concluded.