Hasan Ali thinks India will be under pressure after having lost their last ODI encounter against Pakistan, the Champions Trophy 2017 final, and that Virat Kohli’s absence will give his team an advantage in their Asia Cup clash.
With India-Pakistan matches being reduced to a rarity, any opportunity that the teams have of facing each other brings with it an added edge. Ali, who starred in that Champions Trophy final with 3-19 in 6.3 overs, believes playing at ‘home’ – the Asia Cup 2018 will be held in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s adopted home since 2009 – will give them an advantage.
“We are on top right now and they will be under pressure from the previous defeat,” Ali said. “In UAE, these are our conditions, we have the home advantage as we have been playing here for long and very much aware how to use the conditions well.”
The pressure of facing India? “There is definitely a pressure but I feel good when pressure mounts on me because that is where I try to perform and help my side win,” said Ali.
India and Pakistan go head-to-head on September 19 and missing from the game will be regular India captain, Kohli, who has been rested for the tournament after a nearly three-month-long tour of England and Ireland.
“Kohli is a very good player. We all know he is match winner,” Ali said. “Though India are still a good side, his absence is going to be an advantage for us. He can drive his team out of pressure anytime and any newcomer won’t be good enough to handle the pressure.”
Will he miss bowling at the Indian star? For sure. “I am definitely going to miss bowling at him. It’s natural that every young bower would like to have his wicket,” Ali said.
“But it’s okay if he is not coming … I will look for him the next time. I wasn’t targeting Kohli only. We are not going to play only against India as there are other teams [in the tournament] as well.
“Our main focus is the entire tournament rather than winning one game and losing others. We have do well to beat every team and try to win the tournament.”