Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has insisted the Men in Green will be keen on gaining momentum ahead of the much-anticipated India-Pakistan encounter in Asia Cup, starting September 15 in the United Arab Emirates.
The fifth-ranked side will open its campaign against minnows Hong Kong on September 16, three days before the high-profile India-Pakistan clash.
The influential captain, who led Pakistan to their first-ever Champions Trophy title last year, has insisted his team will put the past behind and focus on the job in hand when the two teams meet at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The arch-rivals have not played each other since the Champions Trophy final, in which Sarfraz's men stunned the then-defending champion by 180 runs. Pakistan came up with an all-round show as Fakhar Zaman's ton and Mohammad Amir's opening burst blew India away at the Oval.
Nonetheless, since winning the big title, Pakistan's form in the 50-over format has been inconsistent. They had won series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe on either side of a 5-0 whitewash in New Zealand earlier this year.
"Every match against India is important. That match [Champions Trophy final] is in the past. It was almost one and a half years ago. So, I don't think we should consider it that much," Sarfraz was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
"If we play India in the final, then we will be playing them thrice. All professional teams put the past behind and look forward. Both teams will do the same."
Assessing conditions key in the UAE: Sarfraz
While India will be without Virat Kohli, Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim have been left out of the Pakistan squad over fitness issues. Nonetheless, both the teams have the firepower to come up with another exciting chapter in their famed rivalry.
As Sarfraz pointed out, India and Pakistan may face each other three times if both the teams reach the final. Drawn in the same group, which also has Hong Kong, they are favourites to meet in the Super Four round as well.
While Pakistan will be familiar with the conditions in the UAE, their record at their home base hasn't been inspiring — 17 wins from 40 outings since 2009.
While insisting that Pakistan will be assessing the conditions better this time around, Sarfraz also added that the team is seeing Asia Cup as the beginning of their World Cup 2019 preparations.
"The weather is hot, so it becomes difficult to bat in humid conditions under lights as the fast-bowlers get to swing the ball in humidity. We will try to assess the conditions. We have two-three sessions under lights," the 31-year-old said.
"Pitches are on the slower side in the UAE, so spinners will have a role to play. Our batsmen and bowlers are in top form. We will look to score more than 300 if we bat first because we possess a bowling unit that can defend that total.
"This [Asia Cup] is the beginning of our road to the event as we don't have much time in between."