The Men in Blue will begin their title defence in Asia Cup 2022 with the much-anticipated India vs Pakistan clash in Dubai today.
Emotions will be running high for both sides this time. India will be looking forward to starting off their title defence with a bang and avenging their loss during the last meeting at ICC T20 World Cup 2021.
On the other hand, Pakistan will be aiming to down Team India once again and carry on with the momentum they have had over India since their last outing. Historically in T20Is, India has an overall edge over Pakistan.
Ever since their first T20I meeting at ICC T20 World Cup 2007, both sides have clashed nine times in the shortest format of the game. India has won seven of these games while Pakistan has only won two matches.
But the last time these two met was during the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 back in October 2021, Team India had a rare slip up against their arch-rivals. Left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi destroyed the Indian top order with two quick strikes.
Contributions from then-skipper Virat Kohli (57) and Rishabh Pant (39) took India to 151/7 in their 20 overs, but knocks from Mohammed Rizwan (79*) and Pakistani skipper Babar Azam (68*) meant that Men in Blue succumbed to a shocking ten-wicket defeat.
India will be looking forward to putting up a big fight this time around and getting their revenge. They have been in fantastic form as of late, having defeated England and West Indies in their respective territories in ODI and T20I series. They are also the number one side in T20Is. Men in Blue delivered excellent performances on these tours.
For this, it will be extremely vital for skipper Rohit Sharma, star batters Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to be at peak of their powers and showcase the brutality with their willow that has earned them millions of fans. All eyes will be on Rohit and Virat to regain their best form and play a match-winning knock.
India’s middle order has been seeing a rise of new stars. Suryakumar Yadav and Deepak Hooda are two exciting strikers who can attack from ball one. These two hitters have their chance to etch their names in history in this match against their arch-rivals.
Experienced middle-order batters/all-rounders like Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant will also be looking forward to carrying on the fine form they are in. All eyes will be on Hardik as ever since he has regained his fitness, there has been no stopping him with both bat and ball.
If he plays, Dinesh Karthik can also deliver some fine finishing touches and accelarate run-scoring.
Indian bowling attack has a lot of depth. In absence of lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah, all eyes will be on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to lead the attack. He has been superb for India in T20Is this year, especially during powerplays, a phase in which India will look up to him for early strikes. Youngsters Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan will have their chance to make an impact as well.
In the spin department, veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be leading the attack. They along with Yuzvnedra Chahal and youngster Ravi Bishnoi will have to complement the pace attack well and bamboozle Pakistanis with their deliveries.
Coming to Pakistan, they are the third-ranked side in ICC T20I rankings and are not to be taken lightly. Their top order has two in-form batters in Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan. These two are Pakistan’s best as far as T20Is are concerned but the side has to make sure that they are not reliable just on them and collapse if these two underwhelm with the bat.
Other batters/all-rounders like Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Haider Ali etc will have to contribute with the bat with the same energy and efficiency as their top batters if they are to pose a big challenge to the Men in Blue.
In absence of left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi, Pakistani pace attack has taken a big dent. Yet another pacer Mohammed Wasim was also ruled out due to injury on Friday.
Injuries have put pressure on young pacers like Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf. Veteran Hasan Ali is also back in the mix. Mohammed Hasnain has also been brought to the squad as a replacement for Shaheen. Pakistan, reputed over the years of producing some of the finest bowlers ever, has its chance to give a proof of its pace greatness here in absence of its leader.
Spinners Usman Qadir will also have to deliver something really brilliant to trap the world-class Indian batting lineup.
Irrespective of what the result is, fans are guaranteed a high-voltage cricket clash between these two Asian giants and they will surely be glued to their TV sets. Indian and Pakistan flags and jersey colours all over the stadium will decorate the stands and the sounds of national anthems, Bollywood songs, fans chanting will ring through Dubai and will create an environment fitting for a clash as big as this one.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), 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: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Hasan Ali, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain.
(Inputs from IANS)