Guwahati: India will take on Pakistan for the second time in a span of 10 days, as they begin their campaign in the Super-four of the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Both teams will look to make a winning start to their Super four campaign. India will look to continue their winning spree in the tournament with wins over Pakistan and Hong Kong in their previous matches. Meanwhile, Pakistan will be wary of the good record of India against them in the last five T20Is. India has managed to secure wins in the last four matches of the five played between the two sides.
With both sides facing injury concerns, it will be interesting to see how their playing 11 shapes up. Ravindra Jadeja has been ruled out of the Asia Cup with a knee injury, while Pakistan pacer Shahnawaz Dahani is out for the game with a side strain.
India will again face the dilemma of choosing between Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik, with the former bringing in the X-factor, while the latter being in great form as a finisher. Pant might get a nod ahead of Karthik in this encounter, with the sole left-hander Jadeja, ruled out of the Asia Cup.
The Indian management would be happy with the performance of Virat Kohli in the last match, with opener KL Rahul also spending some much required time in the middle. However, the team will expect Rahul to play with a lot more freedom.
Notably, India and Pakistan clashed in a moderate-scoring thriller in their last encounter. This was a match which opened their campaigns at the Asia Cup 2022. India made a winning start to its title defence by defeating Pakistan by five wickets. Hardik Pandya (3/25) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4/26) helped in bundling out Pakistan for 147 in 19.5 overs. Rizwan was Pakistan’s top scorer with 43.
Chasing 148, Virat Kohli (35), Ravindra Jadeja (35) and Hardik Pandya (33*) made contributions that guided Team India to a five-wicket win with two balls to spare. Mohammed Nawaz (3/33) and Naseem Shah (2/27) delivered solid performances for their side with the ball.
But now, the stakes are high this time around. Both teams are looking forward to starting their Super Four Phase with a victory which will make their road to the Asia Cup final easier. Fans are also praying that both Asian giants do well going ahead so that they battle it out in the final as well.
Indian top order consisting of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will have to deliver their best in this match. While Virat seems to have shed some rustiness after his unbeaten 59* against Hong Kong, openers Rahul and Rohit are still struggling to give a positive start and make the most out of their powerplay. For Rohit, the task will be to get among the runs again while for Rahul, it will be not only about scoring, but also maintaining a healthy strike rate.
Indian middle order has shown more reliability as of late. Likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, and Deepak Hooda have stepped up and taken responsibility whenever they needed to. Swashbuckling batters like Suryakumar, Hardik, and Pant will be looking forward to showcasing their wide variety of strokes against a quality Pakistan attack.
Indian bowling has been good largely, with likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya delivering not only key wickets but also economic spells. Pacer Avesh Khan’s expensive outing against Hong Kong, in which he conceded 53 runs in four overs, is a cause of worry. It will be interesting if Avesh gets the backing of team management despite being leaking runs with the ball as of late.
Spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel (who has replaced an injured Ravindra Jadeja) will also be looking to be as dominant as pacers on UAE pitches, which have largely benefited India’s pace attack.
Coming to Pakistan, they are heading into the match with their morale high after crushing Hong Kong by 155-runs. Though their dependency on star batter Babar Azam is a concern, it was great seeing the likes of Mohammed Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman and Khusdil Shah making up for Azam’s underwhelming performance and scoring runs.
Azam will be aiming to regain his best form for this crucial clash. Pakistan should also exercise caution while playing Indian bowlers as it is not Hong Kong or any other associate team playing against them this time. They are going toe to toe with a team that is just as world-class as theirs.
Pakistan’s bowling has been fantastic in Asia Cup so far. Young pacer Naseem Shah has been fantastic in the two T20I matches he has played so far and has filled the shoes of his leader Shaheen Shah Afridi to a good extent. Pacer Shahnawaz Dahani has been great too. Spinners have been Pakistan’s biggest assets in this tournament, with spinner Mohammad Nawaz leading the bowling charts with six wickets under his belt. Leg-break bowler Shadab Khan is not too far, sitting at third with five wickets. Pace and spin will have to deliver brilliantly if Pakistan is to win this match.
Irrespective of what the result is, Asia Cup 2022 is set to deliver yet another ‘Super Sunday’ in Asian households, a continent housing millions of obsessed cricket lovers. Many of them will flock to the stadium to catch the action, but the idea of catching live action on TV with friends, family and some delicious food by their side will also be great.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Hasan Ali, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain.