September 19, Wednesday; 17:00 IST
Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
To witness another India vs Pakistan match, we have had to wait 15 months and for another multi-team tournament, in the form of Asia Cup. The rarity of these occasions is one of the reasons for the excitement, while the talent in the teams ensures that the fans are, more nor often, treated to a good contest. For everyone involved, this is a match you don’t want to lose.
The significance of Pakistan winning last year’s Champions Trophy, beating India in the final, cannot be understated. This was not only the only trophy that was missing from their cabinet but also, this victory came after a prolonged period of India dominating the rivalry, particularly in ICC tournaments. However, we will only know once the match starts if beating India to the Champions Trophy has given Pakistan the confidence of playing and winning against India on the few occasions these arch-rivals meet.
As for the Asia Cup itself, Pakistan are the better team on paper. Pakistan boast batsmen who have been scoring runs consistently this year and they don’t have the weaknesses (in the batting and bowling departments) that India are trying to overcome. Virat Kohli’s absence may be felt at some point during the tournament, particularly if India are set a big score to chase.
India beating Hong Kong means this Group A match is a dead rubber, but the intensity is likely to remain high. India will look to hit their stride after a slightly indifferent display against Hong Kong, while this is Pakistan’s first major test of the Asia Cup.
Dubai Cricket Stadium pitch report and forecast
India and Pakistan will play on the same pitch that was used for India’s fixture against Hong Kong. In which case, it has a chance to be slower. The captain who wins the toss is likely to opt to bat first when the conditions are good for batting. Also, the absence of Virat Kohli in the Indian batting line-up and Pakistan historically not being a good chasing side is likely to sway Rohit Sharma and Sarfraz Ahmed to bat first.
The forecast says that the temperature on Wednesday will once again be above 40 degree Celsius, though the evening and night temperatures are over 30 degrees only.
India vs Pakistan head to head in ODI, Asia Cup
India and Pakistan share a 5-5 head to head record in Asia Cup, while the overall head to bead record in ODIs is 73-52 in favour of Pakistan, with four not producing a result.
India vs Pakistan playing XI
India rested a few of the regulars from the XI for the Hong Kong fixture, notably Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. Ambati Rayudu is likely to keep his place after his 70-ball 60 yesterday, though we’ll have to see if Dinesh Karthik’s 30-plus score later in the innings will be enough to retain his place in the XI. Bumrah is likely to come in for Shardul Thakur.
Probable India playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Dinesh Karthik/KL Rahul, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 8 Jasprit Bumrah, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
Pakistan played with their first-choice XI against Hong Kong and are likely to be unchanged for the clash against India.
Probable Pakistan XI: 1 Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Hasan Ali, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Faheem Ashraf, 10 Usman Khan, 11 Mohammad Amir
With the pitch being a little slower, toss will be key, with the captain winning the toss likely to opt to bat first. Three of the four matches in the tournament so far have been won by the team batting first. That said, both teams start on almost a level footing and we are in for a gripping contest.