Former Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir said it is important for India to play Pakistan in the early stage of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup.
Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are clubbed in Group 2 along with Afghanistan, New Zealand and two other teams for the league stage of the T20 World Cup to be played in the October-November window in the United Arab Emirates.
India to face Pakistan in Group Stage opener
According to International Cricket Council’s (ICC) schedule, India will play their first group-stage match against Pakistan at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on October 24.
The rivalry between the two nations is very intense because of the strained political relations between the two countries, which also barred the bilateral series between them, which makes the clash more intriguing.
It is important to play Pakistan in the initial stage of the tournament: Gautam Gambhir
The fact that Pakistan is yet to defeat their rivals in a World Cup fixture will put pressure on both teams to give their best performance and Gambhir recalled their triumphant 2007 World T20 campaign, where they eventually played Pakistan in the first match.
“In 2007 as well, when we went out to win the World Cup, our first game was against Scotland, which was washed out, but then practically, our first game was against Pakistan. And that is exactly what I mentioned it is important to play Pakistan in the early stages of the tournament,” Gambhir said on Star Sports.
“Because what happens is you don’t want to keep thinking about Pakistan and finish it off (the match) initially and concentrate on the entire tournament, and it is exactly the same for the fans and the country as well.”
“Irrespective of what the result is, I am really happy for both the countries that they are going to play against each other in the initial stages,” he added.
India and Pakistan have played eight T20Is amongst them, with the ‘Men in Blue’ have got the better of their opponent six times, while Pakistan won only once in the first of the two-match T20I series played in India in 2012.