Asia Cup 2018 Preview: India look to continue winning run against arch-rivals Pakistan
In the first round, the heavyweight defending Champions India landed the first blow. Result – the challenger Pakistan were knocked out cold. The side led by Sarfraz Ahmed suffered an 8-wicket defeat at the hands of arch-rivals India, in a match that proved to be a completely one-sided contest despite all the hype. But on Sunday, Ahmed will have a chance to redeem himself. The bell will be rung again on Sunday and Round 2 will begin.
The two rivals will square off once again, this time with much higher stakes. In their second Super Four contest, India will be hoping for another triumphant victory to continue their perfect run against a Pakistan side that is yet to showcase their best. Skipper Rohit Sharma will feel confident going into the match, especially after the 7-wicket win over Bangladesh on Friday. On the other hand, Ahmed will feel the need to tighten a few strings together especially after a last over win against Afghanistan on Friday.
Having to make three changes in the squad due to injuries, the Indian camp looked to be in trouble. But the answer to the conundrum came in the form of Ravindra Jadeja, who dismantled Bangladesh’s middle order, taking four wickets in his first ODI in over 14 months. The gap left by Hardik Pandya was solved with one masterstroke move from Sharma.
With the skipper and Shikhar Dhawan in sublime form on top of the order, and Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu delivering decent performances in the middle, it remains unlikely India will make any changes to the side against Pakistan.
Indian seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been good both with the new ball and in the death overs. While Kumar took 3 wickets against both Bangladesh and Pakistan, Bumrah took 3 wickets against the former and 2 against the latter. Even though Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal did not take a single wicket against Bangladesh, there are no real cause of concerns for the team. Both Chahal and Yadav were decent with their economy rate and shackled the opposition in the middle order. While Chahal gave away 40 runs in 10 overs against Bangladesh, Yadav gave away just 34 runs in his full quota of overs. Add Kedar Jadhav into the mix and India’s bowling line-up looks sorted.
On the other hand, Pakistan may want to make a few changes especially with the opening batsman Fakhar Zaman not being his best in the tournament so far. The left-handed batsman was dismissed for a duck in his previous two contests and Pakistan may want to bring in a replacement in his place into the playing XI. Mohammad Amir has also not been among wickets in the past few months and he was kept on the sidelines against Afghanistan.
The side will look for the experienced Shoaib Malik for inspiration who guided them to win with his 43-run innings on Friday. Babar Azam has also looked to be in a good nick, scoring 47 against India and then a fifty against Afghanistan and he could pose a threat for India.
Another cause of concern for India could be that they have won both their previous contests while chasing. In their opening match against Hong Kong, the men in blue were asked to bat first and looked to be vulnerable at one stage against the associate nation. Sarfraz Ahmed could look for a trick here, and hope his side get to bowl first, just to maybe get a mental advantage over Rohit Sharma.