Former Indian batsman Suresh Raina, who has featured in multiple India-Pakistan T20 World Cup contests, believes Indo-Pak encounters are all about handling pressure.
Raina was a part of India-Pakistan contests in 2012, 2014 and 2016 WT20, and in 2012 the southpaw famously struck a match-winning 35* that helped the Men in Blue complete a seven-wicket win.
The 34-year-old described India-Pakistan contests as ‘high-pressure matches' by nature, and claimed that, more often than not, the team that handles nerves the best tends to emerge victorious.
“I was involved in the games in 2014 and 2016. If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game. In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is,” Raina wrote in his column for the ICC website.
“You need to make sure you calm your nerves, focus on the process and play 40 overs of good cricket. It's easier said than done, but it's the only way to try to win that game.
“It's all about handling the pressure and enjoying the game – if you can. That's what India have always done over the years, and tried to go out and do it for our country.”
The 34-year-old, who became the first Indian to score a T20I hundred in the World Cup, further said that he expects the two skippers - Babar Azam and Virat Kohli - to lead from the front with the bat. Babar and Kohli, according to Raina, will ‘set the example’.
“This year, it will be exciting as both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam are excellent leaders, and knowing how important the game is, there will be so much passion on show from both teams. You know that the captains will set the example on that front, and that passion filters through to the rest of the team.
“Babar is one of the leading T20I batters in the world. Like Virat Kohli, he is proof that good batting and good captaincy go hand in hand.”
The southpaw, who recently won the IPL with Chennai Super Kings, believes India have a slight edge due to the experience in their ranks, but expects Pakistan to be highly competitive, with them also boasting a boatload of match-winners in their line-up.
“The good thing from an Indian perspective is that there is a really strong line-up of experienced players with Virat joined by Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja as leaders of the team. Thanks to the IPL, our team has a lot of experience of playing in the UAE and dealing with the conditions there which should stand them in good stead.
“On the other hand, the fact that Babar has senior players around him like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will help him because this is still the first major tournament in which he is captaining the team.
“It's going to be a very good contest with Virat in one corner and Babar in another. They are both really competitive guys who know what the rivalry is all about,” Raina said.