It will be a clash of the arch-rivals, India and Pakistan on Sunday (28 August). The last time both countries met was the T20 World Cup 2021, wherein The Men in Green secured an easy 10-wicket victory. In the shortest format, India recently won the series 4-1 against West Indies. On the other hand, Pakistan secured a clean sweep against the Caribbean team, but lost to Australia in a one-off T20 played earlier in this year.
It will be an opportunity for the players of both teams to prepare well for the T20 World Cup to be played in October-November. The contingent announced for the Asia Cup is most likely to form a base for the World Cup as well, due to the proximity of the schedule and same format.
5 players to watch out for in India vs Pakistan Asia Cup clash
1. KL Rahul
The prolific opening batter has been terrific for the Indian team at the top and in the middle-order. He has scored runs in a consistent manner across all the formats. However, the frequent injury concerns have kept him out of the Indian team in recent months. The COVID positive result recently forced him to pull out of the Caribbean tour as well.
However, the 30-year-old is now fully fit and will be an asset to the Indian team. Rahul’s last appearance came in the IPL 2022, wherein he slammed 616 runs in 15 innings and emerged as the second highest run-scorer.
2. Arshdeep Singh
The youngster has made rapid strides in his career in the last two months. Arshdeep Singh gained recognition in the IPL 2021, where he took 18 wickets in 12 matches at an economy of 8.27. In this year’s IPL, he picked 10 wickets in 14 matches, but at an improved economy of 7.70. Furthermore, he also displayed his innate ability to dart yorkers and defend runs in the death overs, and thus earned a national call-up.
So far, the 23-year-old has scalped 9 wickets in the shortest format, with the best figures of 3/12 against the West Indies. With the advantage of being a left-arm bowler, he is likely to get a longer rope with the Indian team.
3. Babar Azam
Hailed as the finest cricketer at present, Babar Azam has been churning out runs in precarious situations and helping Pakistan to do well in international cricket. His recent knocks of 119 & 55 in the red-ball fixture helped the Men in Green to secure a victory against Sri Lanka. Most importantly, he slammed an unbeaten 68 to help Pakistan secure a sensational 10-wicket victory over the Indian team in the 2021 T20 World Cup.
The number one batter in the T20 format will surely be looking to continue his rich vein of form to prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
4. Virat Kohli
The former India skipper Virat Kohli has been enduring a slump in form this year. He could manage to score 341 runs in 16 innings of IPL 2022 at a dismal average of 22.73. Kohli’s recent scores in the international circuit are read as 17,16, 11 and 1, which reflects his abysmal form.
The 33-year-old is certainly running out of luck, as he is often failing to convert his starts into big innings. His performances in the Asia Cup 2022 will be watched by the cricketing fraternity ahead of the showpiece event, which will be of paramount importance to the Indian team.
5. Shaheen Afridi
The belligerent pacer Shaheen Afridi has been consistent in terms of his wicket-taking abilities across all formats of the game. In the T20Is, he has 47 scalps in 40 appearances at an economy of 7.75. In his last outing against India, Afridi produced his absolute best to dismiss the likes of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in the powerplay overs and took Virat Kohli’s wicket in the death overs.
India’s lacklustre performance against the left-arm pacers has been a matter of concern in the last few years. Apart from Afridi, Mohammad Amir and Trent Boult have troubled the Indian top-order. It will be interesting to see if the Men in Blue can counter this challenge.