By Amit Bishnoi
A cricket match between two arch rivals – India and Pakistan – has always been thrilling. Yet cricket fans across the world were deprived of that excitement for a long time. Ergo, all of them were anxiously waiting for such an occasion. And they got it in the Asia Cup and that too twice in a week. Both the teams are facing each other in the second round of the tournament today. If there is no major upset, they may meet again for the third time in a row and that too in the final. They have, so far, not met in the Asia Cup final. If that happens, the final match of the tournament will be gripping.
India has defeated Pakistan in the first round. Now, the cricket fans of both countries will be waiting with a bated breath till the last ball is played in the second round.
Both the teams are, however, worried about the injuries. Two important players – Jadeja of India and Shahnawaz Dhani of Pakistan – are out of the contest because of their injuries. Therefore, there may be some changes in both the teams. Akshar Patel may be included in the team in place of Jadeja. Patel is confident of it. It is not clear what the Indian think-tank will do, though. Ashwin is still sitting out. Pakistan has three left-handed batters. Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah batted well against Hong Kong.
So, it will be better if Team India enters the field with an off-spinner who can also bat well. For Team India the top order is an issue. KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have yet to return to their usual self. Kohli has shown some of his old charms, however.
Kohli has to play well against the quality bowling of Pakistan. Aside from that, Suryakumar should not be shifted from the existing batting order. As number fourth, he has, so far, shown his guts. Hardik Pandya is sure to return to the team. Will either Dinesh Kartik or Rishav Pant be rested in today’s match? This question will continue to haunt the team managers. Both Pant and Kartik have yet to get an opportunity to bat in the Asia Cup. Once Kartik entered the field with a bat, but he did not get any opportunity to use it, because only a few balls were left then.
As far as Pakistan goes, its captain Babar Azam has failed in two matches in a row. It is a major problem for the team. There are two alternatives – Hasnain and Hasan. The team’s middle order batting is still in disarray. Nevertheless, Khushdil played well in the last match. Pakistan counts on three top batsmen – Babar, Rizwan and Fakhar.
If two of them get out early, the entire team crumbles. And India’s win depends on how early they get those priceless wickets. The last match between India and Pakistan was very exciting. Today’s match is also expected to be a cliff-hanger.
Before the real game, the mind game has begun. The veteran cricketers of Pakistan are trying to incite the Indian batters that they may get excited and make faults. Perhaps, they do not know that it may be otherwise.
Hafiz’s calling Rohit Sharma a tired and sleeping lion may inspire him to play well. Now, Team India has to see whether their lion roars. Indian fans want to see Kohli in his “Viraat” form. None of the cricket matches between India and Pakistan is easy. Yet it is advantage Team India.