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ICC Champions Trophy: Virat Kohli says India-Pakistan is like any other game

India skipper has urged teammates to be passionate but not get emotional when holders face rivals Pakistan in the opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy on June 4 in Edgbaston.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: May 24, 2017 18:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy 2017,India national cricket team
India have squared off against Pakistan three times in the ICC Champions Trophy, with Pakistan having won two matches.(Getty Images)

Given that the ICC Champions Trophy is a tournament between the top eight limited-overs teams in the world, every match is expected to be keenly contested, but given the history and rivalry between India and Pakistan, it is the most awaited clash.

India captain Virat Kohli, however, tried to play down the hype around the match, saying as players they approach it like any other game.

“With all due respect, whatever else is going on as an issue, as a cricketer you cannot think what your partner is thinking, let alone thinking about what is happening, which is out of our control. It’s about playing the game that we love.

Political tensions

India-Pakistan matches always generate a massive hype and bring the players under pressure to somehow win. The two teams meet in their opening match of the tournament at Edgbaston on June 4 this time amid heightened political tension between the neighbours.

Virat Kohli will be leading India for the first time in an ICC event. (Getty Images)

“Yes, an Indo-Pak game is always exciting. For people watching in the stadium, the game is different. If you ask players from both sides, it is like any other game. We prepare for it like it’s any other game. The atmosphere around the ground is different. But in our heads, playing against any other team, be it England, Australia, South Africa it is all the same,” said Kohli.

Rein in emotions

The skipper told a media conference ahead of the team’s departure that it was all normal in the dressing room, with no special motivational talk at team meetings. “There is no need to talk anything different. There is no need to talk to anyone. It’s not the first time we are playing against them.

“There is no need to prepare differently for the game. We go about it the same way. There is no need to motivate players any differently. If you are playing for India, there is no need for any separate motivation. There is no need to be extra motivated against one particular side.

“Yes, you need to be passionate, but there is no need to get emotional. You need to play with the same kind of passion regardless of who you play against.”

Early in the media conference, Kohli was asked whether he thought India should be playing Pakistan at all in the current tense atmosphere between the two countries, but did not answer and the official anchoring the event moved to the next question.

First Published: May 24, 2017 18:51 IST