Kolkata:A cricket match involving arch-rivals India and Pakistan is the biggest extravaganza in sports, former India captain Sourav Ganguly said on Wednesday.
Even the England-Australia Ashes rivalry cannot match the rivalry of an India-Pakistan cricket match, the left-hander told reporters on the sidelines of an event to announce his 'debut' as a commentator with ESPN Star Sports.
"Matches involving India-Pakistan are always big. It is the biggest game in sports, certainly bigger than the much talked about Ashes series. Nothing can match an India-Pakistan rivalry."
Recalling the India-Pakistan Twenty20 thrillers in the last ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, the Bengal ace said "We always have tight finishes. The very first India-Pakistan match in the last T20 World Cup went right down to the Super Over. Even the final clash went down to the wire. There's quality players in both camps that really takes the match to thrilling finishes."
Asked on the excitement involving India-Pakistan warm-up game tonight, the retired India cricketer said, "We should not worry much about these matches."
Referring to India's loss to New Zealand in the first warm-up match he said, "(Mahendra Singh) Dhoni has rested few players who had done a long stint in the IPL. Hopefully, we will have a very good run when matches actually start."
Dhoni was doing a 'fabulous job' and would be successful in defending the World Twenty20 title in England, Ganguly said.
"Indians are firm favourites. But you cannot predict in Twenty20 ... it's about who plays the game well on that particular day," India's most successful captain said.
Asked whether pressure would be on Indians being the reigning champions, he said, "Pressure would be on everyone, whether you're defending champions or any other side. But this Indian team has handled pressure very well in the past and will do well this time also."
While India have been clubbed with Bangladesh and Ireland in a relatively easy group, they would have to face tough teams in the Super Eights.
"But Indians are capable of getting past big teams like South Africa and Australia," Ganguly observed.
"Dhoni is doing a fabulous job at the top for over two years now and he has produced results. I have been in similar position and I know how difficult the job is. There were issues ... He (Dhoni) is successfully going about his role at this young age of 27 that is really commendable," he said.
"He is young and he has to deal with the pressure. It is easier to deal with pressure now than later.
"Dhoni's men won the Twenty20 Cup when India questioned the format of the game. They won the tournament without senior players (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Ganguly himself). They are the new generation of cricketers," he said.
Hailing the Indian opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, Ganguly said, "They are the best opening pair for India. I read that Sehwag was not well, hopefully he will be fit when the tournament starts."
On Rohit Sharma, who opened with Gambhir in the warm-up match against New Zealand, Ganguly said, "He has not yet been in that position. But if a situation arises I think he will have to take the responsibility at the top."
Zaheer Khan's injury, he said, was a concern for India.
"He is our striker bowler, so his injury is a concern. I hope he becomes fit, after all in T20 you have to bowl just four overs."