DUBAI: Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first against India in Super Four of Asia Cup.
Talking after the toss, Pakistani Captain Sarfraz Ahmed said that this match is important for both teams. “We will try our level best to win the match,” he said.
Pakistan has made two changes as Muhammad Amir and Shadab Khan replaced Usman Khan Shenwari and Haris Sohail for the match.
According to ICC, India will definitely not be complacent, especially given what happened during the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. India had beaten their rivals by 124 runs (DLS method) in the group stage, and were favourites for the title, but Pakistan stormed back in the final, famously winning by 180 runs.
In their previous match-up, Pakistan were far from at their best. Their batsmen, apart from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik to an extent, crumbled all too easily, and they were bundled for 162. Then, once Rohit Sharma, the India captain, was allowed to settle in, there was only going to be one outcome.
A batting effort more representative of Pakistan’s capabilities was on display in their next match against Afghanistan, where all of Imam-ul-Haq, Azam and Malik scored half-centuries to power them in a nervy chase – they won by three wickets, negating the threat of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
More of that will be expected this time around against India, especially with Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s coach, not hiding his disappointment with the way his batsmen succumbed in their earlier encounter – “we sort of batted outside our roles, which was very disappointing,” he had said.
The real point of concern for Pakistan is fatigue. That game against Afghanistan went down to the wire, which would have been exhausting both mentally and physically. Furthermore, that was played in Abu Dhabi, and they would have had to make the trip to Dubai the next day. India, meanwhile, have no such concerns, being based in Dubai.
All in all, with the stakes – a spot in the tournament final – a lot higher, this one should be an engrossing contest.
Rohit Sharma (India): The opener hasn’t let captaincy bog him down. He has scored 52 and 83* in his last two outings, but more importantly, has caught the eye with his captaincy as well. “Every time he has got an opportunity to captain India, he has shown his acumen,” Sunil Gavaskar said. “He has shown how patient he can be and then as a batsman, the added responsibility, only makes him better.”
Babar Azam (Pakistan): How Pakistan’s batting fares will go a long way to deciding this clash, and that makes Azam crucial to their chances. He has scored 33, 47, and 66 in Pakistan’s three matches so far, and coming in at one-drop, he will play a big role in nipping out any potential implosion in the bud. The Indian bowlers will want his wicket quickly.
The dry heat will once again test players’ limits – temperatures are expected to touch 40°C. The pitches at the Asia Cup have so far assisted spinners plenty, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change.
PAK XI: F Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, B Azam, S Malik, S Ahmed, A Ali, M Nawaz, S Khan, H Ali, M Amir, S Afridi
IND XI: RG Sharma, S Dhawan, A Rayudu, MS Dhoni, D Karthik, K Jadhav, R Jadeja, B Kumar, K Yadav, Y Chahal, J Bumrah