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KANDY: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Friday said a pep talk by India’s cricket superstar Virat Kohli at the start of his career helped him a lot.

The titans clash in Pallekele on Saturday in the 50-over Asia Cup tournament, a prelude to the upcoming ODI World Cup in India.

Both Azam, who remains top of the ODI batting chart, and Kohli have praised each other on various occasions despite the bitter rivalry between the two nations.

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Asked about comparisons between the two batsmen, the 28-year-old Azam said: “I can’t comment on the debate. Let’s leave that to (the fans).”

“There should be mutual respect. He is older than me and I respect him. I have learned a lot from him,” he said.

“I have said earlier that when I started (international cricket) I spoke to him and it helped me a lot.”

Azam did not reveal the details of the chat.

Pathirana-inspired Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh in Asia Cup

Kohli, 34, was seen mingling with the Pakistan players and hugged pace bowler Haris Rauf as the teams trained under the lights on the eve of the big group clash.

Meanwhile Pakistan announced their XI, keeping the same team which hammered Asia Cup debutants Nepal in the opener.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (cap), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi

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