With a possible spot in the grand finale in the Asia Cup up for grab, arch-rivals India and Pakistan will take on each other for the second time within four days in their ‘Super Four’ encounter on Sunday. Both teams have won their respective matches on Friday night, will have confidence on their side coming into this high-pressure game. And as we are discussing an India – Pakistan encounter, there will be no lack of intensity amongst the players of both teams, that’s for sure.
As of now, India seems to be the clear favorites. They have all bases covered. Their batting has been clinical. In the absence of Virat Kohli, the openers have taken the extra responsibility to provide the team solid starts. Shikhar Dhawan along with Rohit Sharma hasn’t allowed any sort of extra pressure in creep in the middle-order. Also, the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik have done well, whenever they got the opportunity. Batting at No.4 against MS Dhoni too looked in a nice touch in the last fixture.
In bowling, both the pace and spin department have complemented each other brilliantly. Also, Ravindra Jadeja has been blended in the scheme of things nicely with a four-for in the last game.
Also, along with his batsmanship, Rohit has led the team exceptionally well in this Asia Cup. His proactive captaincy is the talk of the town.
Overall, India looks like a settled unit and in all likelihood, they will play the exact XI which took the field against Bangladesh.
On the other hand, Pakistan, despite the last-over victory against Afghanistan, has a few areas of concern. There is no clarity yet surrounding the fitness of leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who missed the last match due to a groin injury. Young Mohammad Nawaz replaced him and took 3 for 57.
Mohammad Amir is likely to make comeback in this high-voltage game in place of Shaheen Afridi, who was tried out against Afghanistan. Also, all-rounder, Faheem Ashraf will be in the reserve bench once again as Haris Sohail seems like their preferred all-round option.
In batting, Pakistan should not repeat the same mistakes which they did against India last time. Their shot selection needs to be more conservative. Someone like Shoaib Malik, who helped the team to go past the spirited Afghans in the last match has to guide this team and anchor the innings. Ideally, Pakistan should bat first and get the runs on the board to put pressure on India through their bowling, which is the strength of this team.
Nevertheless, from a natural point of view, we expect a competitive show from both the teams. Too many one-sided sided encounter in recent years have dampened the spirits of India-Pakistan rivalry somewhat. Let us all hope that we will experience closely fought fixture on Sunday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.