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Blockbuster Sunday in Dubai

India will look to extend their 12-0 record against Pakistan
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They are the biggest and fiercest rivals in world cricket and perhaps in international sport as well.

With due respect to the Ashes, India and Pakistan facing off is a heady concoction of historical baggage and sporting competitiveness all at once with no parallel elsewhere.

And when it comes to the prestigious and all-important World Cups, the atmosphere and pressure accompanying the players ahead of the high-octane clash is a challenge in itself.

India has an absolutely impeccable record of 12-0 against their arch-rivals and would be looking to keep the clean slate and extend their dominance in the 13th installment of the mega-blockbuster.

However, the Indian captain Virat Kohli has put the cushion of history on the backburner and feels it is a fresh game of cricket and they will have to be at their best.

“We never discussed it within the team — what our record is, or what we achieved in the past,” the 32-year-old told a news conference on Saturday.

“They distract you. What matters is how you prepare and how you perform on that given day regardless of opposition. These things are added pressure.”

Kohli had high praise for the current Pakistan team and felt they were a very strong and competitive outfit and cannot be taken lightly.

“The current Pakistan team is very strong, they always have been so. They are very talented, with several players who can change the game anytime,” Kohli said.

“Against a team like that, you need to arrive with your best plans and make sure you execute it well. We definitely have to bring our A game tomorrow.”

The Indian skipper felt he did not find anything different about the India-Pakistan game as compared to the other matches, except for the atmosphere.

“For me, it’s never been different to any other game of cricket that we play.

“Yes, the atmosphere in the stadium is different but our mindset is no different, our preparations are no different, and our approach to the game is certainly no different.”

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who will be shouldering the burden of expectations for a team that has struggled to beat India, also played down the historical factors.

“We are not focused on what happened in the past, but looking forward to what lies ahead,” he said.

“It’s important to start well and make an early impact. We are excited to be here.”

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