Babar plays down India hype ahead of Nepal fixture
Pakistan captain Babar Azam stressed his team was focused on Wednesday's Asia Cup opening game against Nepal rather than against arch-rivals India, saying no team can be taken lightly.
The six-nation Asia Cup -- which Pakistan and Sri Lanka are co-hosting after India refused to tour Pakistan over political tension -- opens in Multan with three other matches in Lahore.
India will play all their matches in Sri Lanka, where nine matches -- including the September 17 final -- will be staged.
Azam regretted the snub over Pakistan's hosting.
"In my opinion, it would have been great if the whole Asia Cup was held in Pakistan," he said on Tuesday. "But unfortunately, it has not happened, so we have to be ready for whatever schedule is decided."
Pakistan will fly to Sri Lanka to play India in Pallekele on September 2 before playing a Super Four match in Lahore and then returning to Sri Lanka for the remaining matches.
Barring any upsets, Pakistan will also play India in Colombo on September 10.
"As professionals, we have to be ready. There is some travelling and back-to-back matches, but we are excited," said Azam, who also played down the hype over the India clashes.
"Pakistan and India matches are always of high intensity and we will try to play the best cricket on that day, but at the moment we are focused on Nepal and will not take them lightly.
"It's the first match and is important," he added.
India, Pakistan and Nepal are in Group A while defending champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan form Group B.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Four stages.
Pakistan are on a high, having whitewashed Afghanistan 3-0 in Sri Lanka last week to rise to the top of the ODI rankings.
Nepal qualified for the Asia Cup after winning the Asian Cricket Council Premier Cup in April at home, beating Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
"We are playing in the Asia Cup for the first time and its a big occasion," said captain Rohit Paudel. "We want to give a competitive game to Pakistan and India as well.
"We deserved to be here. We have been playing for more than two decades and this is the highest opportunity for Nepal and a great learning experience against a world-class team."
Nepal will hope their high-quality spinner Sandeep Lamichhane cause some problems for Pakistan batting which includes world's top-ranked batter Azam, number three Imam-ul-Haq and number five Fakhar Zaman.
Their inexperienced batting will be tested by world's top pace trio of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah.