India, Pakistan meet in Asia Cup crunch clash

Match details

Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
September 23, Sunday; 17:00 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

India vs Pakistan was expected to be a series within the series (Asia Cup 2018) and, on Sunday, we will witness the second instalment of an increasingly likely three-match face-off between the arch-rivals. Winning their respective Super Four first-round matches means India and Pakistan can nudge closer to sealing a place in next Friday’s final with a win tomorrow.

India have comfortably been the best team in the tournament so far, with Pakistan and Afghanistan having very little to separate them in the tournament and on Friday night in Abu Dhabi too. Playing all their matches at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium has been a distinct advantage for India, whose bowlers have starred in each of the three wins so far. For Pakistan to win on Sunday, they must find a way to combat the versatile Indian bowling attack and, when they bowl, quickly get into the Indian middle order. These, to go with Fakhar Zaman firing with the bat at the top of the order, are essentially the keys to Pakistan’s success.

India have been the first team in the tournament to strike a winning combination straight away, while on Friday, they found a suitable replacement for the injured Hardik Pandya. The protagonists in the batting and bowling departments have fired so far and the confidence in the camp must, therefore, be high.

Pakistan’s morale will have been low after the eight-wicket defeat to India on Wednesday, but the manner of the victory against Afghanistan must have been morale-lifting. That said, Pakistan’s problem when they play India has often been the inability to rise to the occasion and exude maturity. The shots played by Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman in the first meeting between these sides showed how the pressure of playing against India has tended to get the better of Pakistan. Mickey Arthur, the coach, has a big job in his hands to ensure his players play their best cricket in the second time of asking.

Dubai International Cricket Stadium pitch report and weather forecast

Batting in the afternoon has been harder than in the evening, under lights, when the ball has skidded onto the bat more. Having won chasing in their previous matches and with a better understanding of the conditions, India and Pakistan might well choose to bat second depending on which way the toss goes.

The weather forecast says that Sunday will be another hot day but less humid, with the temperature in the evening hovering in the mid-30s (degree Celsius).

India vs Pakistan playing XI

Unless a player has picked up an injury between Friday and Sunday, India are unlikely to alter their playing XI from the win over Bangladesh.

Likely Indian playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Jasprit Bumrah, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Pakistan brought in Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Sohail for their first Super Four match. Shadab Khan suffered what seemed to be a back injury while bowling his second over in the match against India. He was a forced absentee for the match against Afghanistan. But if he has regained fitness, he is likely to come in for Sohail, with Pakistan keen to play with two specialist spinners (Shadab and Nawaz).

Probable Pakistan playing 11: 1 Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Imam-ul-Haq, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Haris Sohail/Shadab Khan, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Usman Khan, 11 Shaheen Afridi

Match prediction

Pakistan, obviously, need to raise their game from the first meeting against India. The quick-scoring Fakhar Zaman holds the key to the team’s chances of toppling India. This match comes at a crucial stage in the tournament for both teams and, unlike in the last Group A match, the pressure will be a massive factor.

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