India captain Virat Kohli believes that Pakistan possesses players who can change the game anytime. He also said that against teams like Pakistan, one has to put out their best possible plan and execute it well.
India start their ICC men's T20 World Cup campaign in a high-octane 'Super 12' match against Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. India have a 5-0 record against Pakistan in men's T20 World Cups.
"According to me, Pakistan team is very strong and has been a strong team for long. You have to play your best cricket against them as they have a lot of talent. They possess players who can change the game anytime. Against teams like them, you have to bring your best plan forward and make sure that the plan is executed well. The more consistently we play, the more pressure we are able to create on the opposition. So, definitely, we have to bring out A-game forward," said Kohli in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
Kohli refused to divulge any concrete information about the make-up of India's playing eleven for their tournament opener but spoke about the team being confident in terms of executing plans.
"We have spoken about our combinations. I am not going to reveal them right now. But we have put in place a very balanced team and something that we feel covers all bases properly.
"We are pretty confident in terms of execution as well because guys have been playing a lot of T20 cricket recently in the IPL. Everyone's playing well. So, that's a very positive thing for the team. Now, it's purely down to execution out there in the middle, of which everyone is confident and professional enough to do so. Role clarity is something we have addressed already. So, we feel very prepared."
Kohli confirmed that pace all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be ready to play in Sunday's match, saying that if Pandya can bowl even two overs, the balance of the team gets even better.
Pandya hasn't bowled in a cricket match since the white-ball tour to Sri Lanka in July this year.
"I feel that Hardik, currently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament. We strongly think that we can make most of the opportunity we have at hand till the time he starts bowling. We have considered a couple of other options to chip in for an over or two. We are not bothered about that at all."
But Kohli spoke at length about the immense value Pandya the batter brings to the Indian T20I side at number six.
"What he brings at number six is something which one can't create overnight. Hence, I have been in favour of backing him as a batter in Australia, something which we saw in the T20 series and how he can take the game away from the opposition in full flow. We understand the value he brings to the team as a number six batter. In world cricket, if you look around, (it's the) specialists who have done the job.
"It's very important to have that guy, especially in T20 cricket, who can play an impact innings at that stage. Even when the chips are down, he is someone who can play a long innings. For us, that is way more valuable that forcing him to do something for which he is not ready for at the moment. He is very motivated and is keen to give us (a) couple of overs. When that happens, obviously, the balance becomes even better. We are pretty confident heading into the start of the tournament." - IANS