Asia Cup: Will India Come Up Trumps Against Pakistan Once Again?

| Updated: 03 September, 2022 9:07 pm IST

The arch-rivals India and Pakistan are set to cross swords for the second time in Asia Cup 2022. The much-vaunted ‘Super Four’ match is slated to take place on Sunday.

In their first encounter, India pipped Pakistan to the post and clinched the cliffhanger by five wickets. Pakistan’s over reliance on their opening batters – Mohammad Rizwan and captain Babar Azam – came to the fore in the match. Due to Babar’s early dismissal and Rizwan’s rather sedate 42-ball 43, Pakistan could manage only 147. Their score would have been even lower had their no.11 Shahnawaz Dahani hadn’t clouted two sixes out of the blue.

Fakhar Zaman is a breezy batter but usually comes up short against quality attacks. Batsmen such as Iftikhat Ahmed and Asif Ali will have to step up if Pakistan has to pose a tough challenge to the in-form Indian team.

Pakistan’s bowling, on the other hand, is reasonably credible. Defending a modest target against India, Pakistan’s bowlers put up a good show and made life tough for Indian batsmen. Playing his first T20I match, Naseem Shah bowled with bracing exuberance and nipped out Indian opener KL Rahul for a duck. Later, he also castled Suryakumar Yadav. The seamer managed to swerve the ball with skill and reaped rewards. Even in the match against Hong Kong, he snapped up a couple of scalps.

However, Pakistan’s biggest strength is the form of their spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan. The left-arm spinner Nawaz snared three wickets against both India and Hong Kong. The leg-spinner Shadab didn’t pick up any wicket against India but gave away only 19 runs in 4 overs. Against Hong Kong, he grabbed four scalps for just 8 runs. Both of them are not just wicket-takers but also have the knack of stifling batsmen for runs.

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However, Dahani has been ruled out of the match against India due to side strain and that certainly is a big setback for Pakistan.

India at present is a much superior and balanced team than Pakistan but they can ill afford to take their enigmatic arch-rivals lightly. There are a couple of chinks in their armour as well. India cannot afford to have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli as their top 3 batters in the line-up.

While Rahul is making a comeback and is clearly struggling, Kohli also hasn’t been fluent for a long time. In fact, Rahul’s atrocious innings against Hong Kong – 36 off 39 balls – would have been albatross around India’s neck if Suryakumar hadn’t unleashed a blistering half-century in death overs. India will not get away with this in every match especially against good sides.

Another worry for India is the horrid form of Avesh Khan who is looking completely out of rhythm. Even against a weak team like Hong Kong, he conceded 53 runs in 4 overs. It wasn’t a one-off terrible show as he has been pummeled by batters in death overs for a while now.

Apart from these couple of drawbacks, India are in a fine fettle. The presence of Suryakumar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, both of whom are in the midst of run-glut, in the middle-order is a gigantic advantage. Kohli is also showing signs of getting into the groove and regaining his form.

Among bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the spearhead of the attack as he is bowling splendidly with both the new as well as old ball. The 32-year-old has the knack of chalking up early wickets without giving away too many runs. With the old ball, he bowls biting cutters and effective slower-balls to bewilder batters.

The leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal found his mojo earlier this year and since then has been on a roll. Arshdeep was rather expensive against Hong Kong but overall has been in decent form. The all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is ruled out of the tournament and that’s a bit of worry for India. His replacement Axar Patel is likely to be in the playing XI against Pakistan.

On the whole, India have a distinct edge ahead of the match but if Pakistan can get their act together, they can spring a surprise on their mighty rivals.

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