Fans' emotions before an India-Pakistan cricket match reach zenith. However, if players get soaked into too much of those emotions, it doesn't help the cause, feels India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
The two cricketing rivals square off for the second time this year Saturday at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in their ICC World T20 2016 Group B match.
"Probably bigger than the Ashes series" featuring Australia and England is how Ashwin describes an India-Pakistan encounter in 22 yards. He adds a warning, however, that emotions are best left for the fans and the supporters to express. For the actors on the cricket pitch, it should be business as usual.
MS Dhoni and co. will have a massive task ahead if they lose to Pakistan and suffer their second-straight defeat of the competition and that is something the Men in Blue need to be wary of. As of now, Pakistan and New Zealand look the favourites to progress to the knockout stages of the competition, and India have got their work cut out now to deliver.
"This [India-Pakistan] rivalry is huge. It is hard to say how huge it is," Ashwin was quoted as saying by IANS, Friday. "It is probably bigger than Ashes. As far as Indians and Pakistanis go, it is more of a border rivalry. Both teams want to get one-up on each other.
"There is so much to the game rather than the game taking the centre stage. As far as people are concerned they put their emotions in the game. As a player it is about keeping the emotions aside," the 29-year-old added.
After their defeat against the Kiwis in their opening game, many would have expected that luck could leave the India side this time. However, Ashwin knows that he and his teammates have all the confidence and determination to get back up from this juncture.
"If there is any team in the world that can bounce back from this scenario, it is India. We have been in similar situations in the past and know how to come out of it," Ashwin told NDTV. "Momentum is important and we have to pick that up from Eden Gardens," he said.
It was in 2007 — the first edition of the ICC World T20 — that India had also lost their only game of the competition to New Zealand and in the end, the Men in Blue finished as the winners after getting past Pakistan in a dramatic final.
"We don't see much pressure. We are used to playing a lot of India-Pakistan games. Every game is a pressure for us. We are used to it and we can handle it so it is not about pressure," the lanky bowler continued. "We have put ourselves in such a position. Now we need to win and need to focus on doing well than pondering over our opponents."