UAE heat not a factor for India in Asia Cup quest against Pakistan

India’s middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has dismissed talk that summer heat and humidity in the UAE will affect his team. (AFP)
Updated 16 September 2018
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UAE heat not a factor for India in Asia Cup quest against Pakistan

  • India’s middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has dismissed talk that summer heat and humidity in the UAE will affect his team
  • Rayudu will line up for an India side without Virat Kohli, but one still packed full of talent

DUBAI: India’s middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has dismissed talk that summer heat and humidity in the UAE will affect his team in their bid to win this year’s Asia Cup.
Rayudu will line up for an India side without Virat Kohli, but one still packed full of talent with the likes of skipper Rohit Sharma and M.S. Dhoni in the ranks.
They kick off their Asia Cup campaign against Hong Kong on Tuesday before they face bitter rivals Pakistan in the glamor tie of the tournament.

And, speaking to media in the UAE, Rayudu scoffed at the idea that weather conditions would play havoc with India’s approach to the game.
“We are used to the heat because we play cricket in the Indian summer. We have had a good week’s time to get acclimatized to the heat and it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.
The India— Pakistan match, one of the biggest in world cricket, has arrived early for the fixture-weary India squad, but Rayudu said: “We are doing our preparations. We are not thinking Pakistan is here or somebody else is here. We are doing our bit and not looking at anything else.”
When asked about the absence of Virat Kohli in the India’s squad, he was philosophical in his answer.
“It is obviously a big miss. We will definitely miss him. But we still have a good enough team to go out and do well and win matches.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani ace Babar Azam is relishing the idea of facing India three times in the tournament.
“It is nice if India and Pakistan play three times, especially in the light of there being no series (between the two teams). This is a nice opportunity to play each other and in a good tournament, too.

“It is also important because a lot of people will come out to watch these matches and many will follow the matches, so it is a good chance for the fans to enjoy it.”

Azam admitted that the in-form Kohli not lining up for the Indians is an advantage to other teams in the tournament, but believes India still have threats that his Pakistan teammates must be aware of.
“They have Sharma and Dhoni, who are experienced players.
“And remember, the best teams play in the Asia Cup. Although the India match will be interesting, I feel all the five teams are good,” he said.
Azam revealed that the Pakistan dressing room is currently a settled and happy one, with Mickey Arthur as coach and youngsters in the team high in confidence and self-belief.
“The presence of senior players like Shoaib Malek and Sarfraz Ahmad has helped a lot as all the youngsters talk to them and they are so helpful,” he said.
Pakistan and India will go into the game at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, having both faced Hong Kong, knowing whoever wins will have the upper hand in the Super Four round.


High-flying Saudi Arabia set sights on silverware ahead of Qatar clash

Updated 48 min 26 sec ago
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High-flying Saudi Arabia set sights on silverware ahead of Qatar clash

  • Green Falcons on a high as they aim to top group with victory over Qataris.
  • Winner of Group E will face Iraq in second round.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia only have one thing on their minds — lifting the trophy on Feb. 1 in Abu Dhabi.
The Green Falcons face Qatar in the UAE capital today with both sides having already confirmed their places in the second round. Juan Antonio Pizzi’s players have been impressive so far thanks to a 4-0 victory against North Korea, followed by a relatively simple 2-0 win over Lebanon.
That fine form has Fahad Al-Muwallad dreaming of the Green Falcons going all the way.
“As a player I have followed many matches in this Asian Cup and all the teams have ambitions to reach the final and win the title. We promise that within our team that our ambition is the highest among all,” the forward said.
“We only play to win the title, nothing less, regardless of who we play.”
Having started so well such confidence is understandable, not least because in their last tournament, the World Cup, the team lost 5-0 and 1-0 — to Russia and Uruguay, respectively — in their opening two clashes.
Added to that is the fact that of the favorites only Iran appeared to be on top of their game, while the likes of South Korea and Japan looked to be stuck in second gear.

Juan Antonio Pizzi is looking for victory over Qatar in a build to maintain the momentum the Green Falcons have built up during wins over North Korea and Lebanon. (AFP)


But anyone thinking Saudi Arabia are getting ahead of themselves have been told to think again. While the Green Falcons are confident and seeking to ramp up their title challenge in the knockout stages, they are aware they must win today to top Group E.
“Our qualification does not mean that we will underestimate the importance of tomorrow’s match,” Al-Muwallad said.
“We will try to play every game as hard as we can.”
That is the message being delivered by Pizzi. Having seen his team get off to such a great, positive start, the manager is keen not to lose any momentum ahead of the second round.
“What matters in such tournaments is achieving good results, which we were able to do in the first two matches against Lebanon and North Korea,” he said.
“We hope to fulfill the aspirations of Saudi football fans who watch each and every match, and we intend to play with the same importance.”
Should the Green Falcons continue their good form and beat Qatar — who have looked equally as impressive in their 2-0 win over Lebanon and 6-0 hammering of North Korea — they will top the group and face Iraq next Tuesday.
“Qatar is a team with many qualities and they have good strikers. However, we are also doing well collectively and I have full confidence that my players can get the three points,” the former Spain international said.
“We will try to do our best to win (against Qatar), even if we have qualified to the knockout rounds, our strategy to win the game will not change.”
Pizzi’s opposite number Felix Sanchez was equally adamant that his side would not play for a draw — their better goal difference would secure them top spot, however — and would aim for a win.
“We are doing exactly the same as we have for the other games, but we know it is a match which will decide top spot,” the Spaniard said.
“We will plan well, as we did for the other matches. The focus now is on Saudi Arabia and we must plan for a good game.”