While Pakistan will rely on their fast bowlers, India will count on their top order in the Asia Cup
Arch-rivals Pakistan and India have entertained billions of cricket fans across the world with their exciting cricket matches. But due to political tensions between the two countries, they have not played any bilateral series since the 2012-13 season.
India and Pakistan only meet at multi-nation tournaments now such as World Cup and Asia Cup. This time the Asia Cup is being played with the ODI format for the first time since 2018. Last year’s Asia Cup was played on a 20-20 format that was won by Pakistan beating India in the final by five wickets.
The tournament will provide a good opportunity to the participating teams to prepare for the World Cup in October-November this year in India.
The matches between India and Pakistan will be the most eagerly awaited of the tournament’s fixtures as both teams are the front-runners to win the 2023 Asia Cup, which is expected to be a tightly contested competition.
Pakistan are the reigning champions and have a well-rounded team with a nice balance of batting and bowling.
Currently, Pakistan are second in the ICC ODI team ranking behind Australia while India are third.
Pakistan have a balanced batting lineup featuring exceptional talents like Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Agha, Saud Shakeel. Their consistent performances in the international arena lend depth and stability to the team’s batting.
Skipper Babar Azam will be the centre of attention for Pakistan batting. Currently, Babar is among the top four batsmen of the ICC Test, ODI and T20 formats ranking. In ODIs he is in the top position, third in T20 format while in the Test format he is fourth.
Middle order has witnessed inconsistency, and the absence of experienced players like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will be a challenge to inexperienced batsmen.
Pakistan can use the tournament as an opportunity to build a robust bench strength. A blend of experience and youth could shape a well-balanced squad for the upcoming World Cup.
A strong bowling attack may win games even if the batting squad struggles. The bowlers must be able to take wickets at regular intervals and put the batting team under pressure. Bowling will be the strong area for Pakistan in the Asia Cup as they proved against Afghanistan in the ODI series.
The strength of the Pakistan team is their fast bowlers. On the other hand the strength of the Indian team is their batting, but for quite some time, Indian batting has not been performing according to expectations.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is considered one of the toughest bowlers to face in the beginning overs. He enjoys taking wickets of top-order to dent the opposition early on. Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah’s presence make Pakistan pace attack one of the best.
Fielding is often underestimated but can make or break a game. A solid fielding squad can save runs and catch balls, which can make or break the outcome of a game. In recent times, the Greenshirts have improved their fielding skills, especially catching.
Pakistan’s spin department is led by experienced spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz, while young Usama Mir is also a good option. Their ability to exploit subcontinental conditions gives Pakistan a strategic advantage.
On the other hand, team India led by Rohit Sharma is a combination of experience and youth. Besides being studded with veteran players like Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah, the team is also strengthened by the return of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who recently missed plenty of action due to injury.
The 16th edition of Asia Cup cricket tournament is starting from Aug 30 in Multan. Hosts Pakistan will face Nepal in the first match, but the most important game of the tournament will be between Pakistan and India in Pallekele on Sept 2 and a possible rematch during the Super 4 stage planned for September 10 in Colombo.
In the previous 15 editions, India have been successful seven times, Sri Lanka five times and Pakistan thrice.
India and Pakistan have played 16 games in the Asia Cup so far. India have had the upper hand. In the ODI format, India have won 7 of the 13 games while Pakistan remained victorious on five occasions. One game ended with no result in 1997. In the T20I format, India have a 2-1 advantage over the arch-rivals.
Overall, Pakistan and India have played 201 international matches across formats. Pakistan lead the head-to-head count with 87 wins while India have won 72 matches and drawn 38.
India and Pakistan met for the first time in the Asia Cup in the first edition of the tournament in the UAE in 1984. India won the match by 54 runs. Pakistan were bowled out on 134 while chasing an easy target of 189.
Since then Pakistan and India have played 15 matches against each other in the Asia Cup ODIs. India have won eight times and Pakistan five times.
To win against India, the Pakistani top order must play their natural game and provide a solid foundation for the middle order to post a massive total.
The team that scores the most runs in the first ten overs has a better chance of winning the match. This is because the fielding team is still settling in, while the batting team has the advantage of batting on a new wicket.
If Pakistan win the first game against India, it will be a booster for the Green-shirts for the expected next matches, particularly if the two sides meet in the final on September 17.