One of the charms of international sports is the rivalries between countries for various reasons ranging from political to regional or shared borders and even style of play. Cricket is no exception as the latest one in the sport that is gaining traction is the clash between neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It is something that, Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott said, gets his players excited ahead of their clash against Babar Azam’s men on Monday.
“I think for them it’s a rivalry that excites them. We have seen Asia Cup clashes and matches that have been very exciting. No closer than the T20 Asia Cup last year, where it went down with Pakistan (winning) by one wicket,” said Trott.
“So, we have had very close games as well. Hopefully, tomorrow isn’t very exciting, and we win by a lot. But I am sure we will see an exciting game tomorrow. It’s just the nature of the rivalry, I should say. And I think both teams respect each other but are desperate to win,” added the former England batter.
With Monday’s match set to be played on the same strip used for the India and Australia encounter, spinners could well hold the key, which should play to the strength of the Afghans.
However, Trott said the rest of the team, too, have to pull their weight. “The thing is — with spinners, only two or three are playing a game. And it’s the other eight as well that have to play the game, so that’s important. It’s everybody’s job and not just the spinners’ job to win games,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq was unfazed by the Afghan spin and recalled that the team recently beat Afghanistan in similar spin-friendly conditions in a bilateral series in Sri Lanka.
“Of course, there are good spinners in Afghanistan who can bowl well in the middle overs. But we had beaten them in Hambantota 3-0. Even there, the conditions were very spin-friendly. So, we will back that and our ability. In the end, you have to play the ball, not the bowler,” said Imam.