The arch-rivals, India and Pakistan, are set to lock horns in the Asia Cup match on Sunday. The tournament, which features six nations in this edition, will be played in the T20 format so that major teams can prepare themselves for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
India have been the most successful team in the history of the Asia Cup, having clinched the championship seven times. Pakistan, on the other hand, has only twice won the tournament (in 2000 and 2012).India emerged victorious in the last two editions of the Asia Cup (2016 and 2018).
Just like this time, the 2016 edition of the Asia Cup was also played in the T20 format. Apart from these two editions, all the matches of the Asia Cup have been ODIs.
India and Pakistan have crossed swords in 13 ODIs in the Asia Cup, with the former winning seven and the latter coming up trumps in five. One match did not yield any results. Both the teams have also competed in one T20I in the Asia Cup in 2016, which India won by five wickets. Riding on their bowlers’ spectacular show, India had bundled Pakistan out for only 83. In response, Virat Kohli cracked a fine 49 to propel his team to victory.
Overall, India and Pakistan have competed against each other in nine T20Is. Out of these, India defeated Pakistan in six matches and lost only two. One match ended in a tie. India’s most memorable win against Pakistan in the T20I format came in the final of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 when the ‘Men In Blue’ – led by MS Dhoni – pipped the arch-rivals by five runs to lift the coveted cup.
At present, India are looking for the strongest team in the tournament. The squad consists of a string of world-class players who have proved their mettle several times. There is intense competition in the team for every spot due to the vast talent pool at India’s disposal. Players like Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant are in sterling form. They are duly supported by experienced customers such as captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.
Even without Bumrah, India’s bowling has immense depth, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar leading the pack. Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal are also bowling with gusto. In 2022, India have won 16 out of 21 T20Is, which underlines their enormous strength and stellar form.
Though Pakistan are also a well-balanced side, they have surprisingly played only one T20I this year. Hence, their players must be a little short on practice. Their batting is completely dependent on Babar Azam and Mohd Rizwan, both of whom have been piling up mountains of runs over the last couple of years in this format. Apart from these two, Pakistan lack a consistent performer in the batting line-up.
Shadab Khan is a nifty T20 all-rounder who can come good with both the bat and ball. In the absence of their premier pacer, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan’s bowling seems middling at the moment.
The statistics suggest that India have a distinct advantage over Pakistan both in T20Is and Asia Cup. Based on team balance and current form as well, India are ahead of their rivals. However, India will not make the mistake of taking them lightly.
As known to everyone, Pakistan are a supremely enigmatic team and overwhelms the strongest teams on their day. They’ve pulled off jaw-dropping heists on several occasions in the past. In last year’s T20 World Cup, Pakistan made a mockery of India as they routed their competitor by 10 wickets. The abject pasting demoralised the Indian team as they later crashed out of the tournament.
In any case, no India-Pakistan match is devoid of frenetic excitement and sting. Cricket fans are smacking their lips at the prospect of a high-octane and exhilarating contest.
Indian squad: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain