After registering a narrow win by 26 runs against minnows Hong Kong in their opening encounter, defending champions India will look to come out with a much-improved performance when they clash with Pakistan in the last Group A encounter of the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 at the Dubai International Stadium in Dubai, UAE.
Rohit Sharma- led complacent India survived a mighty scare by minnows Hong Kong who put up a brilliant fight to show the world what they are capable of. Debutant pacer Khaleel Ahmed along with the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav put up a brilliant performance to lead India’s bowling charge against Hong Kong who came out all guns blazing.
In pursuit of a stiff 286-run target, unheralded Hong Kong opening pair of Nizakat Khan (92) and skipper Anshuman Rath (73) added a record 174-run partnership to raise the visions of a major upset before inexperience cost them dear as they managed 259 for eight. The only silver lining from Tuesday’s match were the performance of Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayadu.
However, the Men in Blue will have to tighten their screws and come out with a better performance in all the three departments if they have to defeat Pakistan, who were quite clinical in their first game against Hong Kong.
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Speaking to media, skipper Rohit Sharma had said, “It’s always exciting to play Pakistan, but it’s not about one team as well. There are other teams also eyeing the title.” India will be without the services of their star batsman Virat Kohli. However, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed feels Kohli’s absence will not make much of a difference and his team will have to be at their absolute best to beat the number two ranked team in the world.
“No doubt he (Kohli) is their captain and a world-class batsman but I think they (India) have a good team even without Kohli. They have good players who have done well for India. So, I don’t think it will make much difference to India. Their batting is very strong so I can say that it will be a good match,” Sarfraz had said in the press conference.
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India and Pakistan last time clashed with each other at the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 when the Men in Green defeated Team India by 180 runs at The Oval on June 18. Pakistan had scored a mammoth of 338/4 runs which India failed to chase. The Indian batsmen had no answers to some fabulous bowling by Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and leg-spinner Shadab Khan. And so, India would be hungry to avenge that loss.
Overall, India and Pakistan have played 12 games against each other in the Asia Cup tournament (11 ODI and 1 T20I), with India emerging victorious on six occasions, Pakistan on five and one match ending without any result.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed.
Pakistan squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir