'I didn't know he made a statement like that' - R Ashwin responds to Ramiz Raja's statement on India vs Pakistan rivalry

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin reflected on the historic India vs Pakistan rivalry, with the two teams set to face off in a T20 World Cup 2022 Super 12s clash in Melbourne on October 22.
Ravichandran Ashwin?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
“Respect for the opposition is not something that comes with victories and defeat”

India and Pakistan will kickstart their T20 World Cup 2022 campaign when they face off in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground in a Super 12s clash on October 23. Last year, Pakistan had registered a 10-wicket win when the two teams met at the marquee event, their first ever win over the Men in Blue in World Cups (ODIs or T20Is).

The two teams played last over thrillers at the Asia Cup 2022 in the UAE last month, with India winning the first and Pakistan returning the favour in the second. Ahead of another box-office clash, the off-field comments and the excitement serves as a great build-up.

Recently, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja had remarked that India have started to respect Pakistan even more following the Babar Azam led side’s win last year.

“We must give credit to this Pakistan team as they have defeated a one-billion-dollar cricket team,” Ramiz had said last week.

When asked of his thoughts on the comments, India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had an interesting response.

“I didn't know he made a statement like that until you said that, so that’s one way of dealing with it,” Ashwin told reporters in Perth on Monday.

“Respect for the opposition is not something that comes with victories and defeat. It comes with how you are made, and we certainly respect the Pakistani side, and so do they,” he added.

“It’s a game of cricket. We don’t play so often, the rivalry is big. It means a lot to the people from both countries but at the end of the day whatever you may say as a cricketer and someone who is playing the sport you do understand that wins and losses are part of the game. Especially in this format, the margins are going to be so close. We definitely respect the Pakistan side and so do they.”

Ashwin also stressed on the importance of the warm-up matches in build up to the tournament major.

“No matter how many times you have been on tours to Australia and England, it is very important that you put in those miles very early on,” he said. “By the time you are hitting the first game, I think we need to be up and running and also be completely sure about what the conditions are going to be. Like I said, even watching the game yesterday is very very important to understand how the game is being played in this part of the world.”