Johannesburg: Pakistan will not mind losing to arch-rivals India as long as the World Cup is won, according to Pakistani wicket-keeper Rashid Latif. "We're obviously focused on beating India, because of the traditional rivalry," Latif told BBC Urdu. "But if we lose to India and then win the World Cup, our defeat to it won't really matter." India and Pakistan clash in a preliminary league match at Centurion on March 1, the first between the two warring neighbours since June, 2000.
Latif stressed winning the World Cup is more important than just a victory over India. "Winning the World Cup is more significant because we lost to India in 1992 and ended up winning the tournament," he said. The Indian government has banned bilateral cricket matches against Pakistan in protest at what it calls Islamabad's support of terrorism in the disputed region of Kashmir. Latif, set to quit cricket after the World Cup, believes there will not be pressure on rival players from fans.
"There was a lot of pressure in the past when we used to play regularly, but that has lessened in recent years because we haven't really faced each other that often," he said. "For fans around the world this would be the showcase match of the tournament. So of course we'll want to win, but the rest is in God's hands." Pakistan has never defeated India in the World Cup, losing three times in succession in 1992, 1996 and 1999.