Asia Cup 2022: On Sunday, in Dubai India and Pakistan will clash for the first time since Babar Azam’s team defeated their arch-rivals by 10 wickets at the T20 World Cup, incidentally in Dubai. The Men In Green will want to emulate a similar result on Sunday.
And even though they will be missing Shaheen Afridi – their star pacer who was Man of the Match last time vs India – we can see that Pakistan have plenty of reasons that they could emerge victorious once again.
Here are 3 major factors that could tilt the scales in Pakistan’s favour against India:
Babar-Rizwan opening combo
While it was Shaheen who hurt India with the ball last time around, India were also unable to breach the opening combo of Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan; Rizwan scored 79* and Babar scored 68* in the chase of 152.
As opening partners together in T20Is, they have amassed 1232 runs in 23 innings at an average of 56, raising 5 century-stands; none of the four opening pairs who have more T20I runs than these two has an average anywhere close to them.
Pakistan’s two best T20I batters are right up top; India will need to dislodge them first to gain an upper hand with the ball.
No Jasprit Bumrah for India
Apart from Jasprit Bumrah’s statistical feat, that he’s India’s third-highest T20I wicket-taker, there is no doubt to say that he is India’s best and most important pacer currently. However, Rohit Sharma will not have Bumrah at his disposal in the Asia Cup 2022 as Bumrah was ruled out due to a back injury.
This automatically gives a good boost to the Pakistani batters, especially those who will be batting in the death overs, the phase where Bumrah is regarded as the best in the world.
Kohli-Rahul out of form and match practice
It is quite a striking thing that two of India’s top three — KL and Virat Kohli — are coming into such an important tournament with little match practice behind them. KL Rahul recovered from a two-month injury layoff and played a couple of innings in Zimbabwe, scoring 1 and 30 and not looking assured.
Kohli, on the other hand, was fit but also hasn’t played any game for a month: after the end of his horrific England tour – where he couldn’t score more than 20 in any of his 6 innings across formats – Kohli took rest from the West Indies and Zimbabwe tours.
So, don’t be shocked if either one of Kohli and Rahul, or even both, flop on Sunday versus Pakistan.
Here are the squads of both India and Pakistan:
India: 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. Standbys: Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar.
Pakistan: 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, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir.