Pakistan likely to make two changes in match against arch-rivals India with Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir making their way back into the squad in place of Haris Sohail and Usman Shinwari respectively in today’s important Super Four match of Asia Cup 2018.
India thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets with 21 overs to spare in their last encounter and will take confidence from that win into Sunday’s game at Dubai International Stadium.
On Friday, Pakistan narrowly avoided another crushing defeat when Sarfraz Ahmed’s team beat Afghanistan in its opening Super Four match with just three balls to spare in Abu Dhabi. While, India easily beat Bangladesh by seven wickets.
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Going into the Asia Cup, Pakistan were looking like a more balanced side as compared to Virat Kohli-less India. But in the Pool A game last week, Pakistan were just hammered by their rivals.
However, India, despite coming across as the tournament’s strongest team following three consecutive wins, would be wary of Pakistan.
Pakistan have this ability to bounce back and the who would know that better than the Indians.
After missing Friday’s game, a fit-again Shadab Khan is expected to return to the line-up. But it remains to be seen whether Pakistan will bring back their out-of-form pacer Mohammad Amir. The left-armer was dropped for the game against Afghanistan after a series of failures.
Azhar Mahmood, Pakistan’s bowling coach, didn’t answer that question but was quick to add that his bowling attack remains potent. “Overall, I’m happy how our bowlers have performed in this tournament,” the former Pakistan all-rounder said on the eve of the eagerly-awaited encounter. “In the big match tomorrow our target would be to take early wickets because that’s the way to put your opposition under pressure,” he added.
Azhar was confident that his team won’t repeat the mistakes it committed in Wednesday defeat against India. The Indians, meanwhile, have the momentum. Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma is in sublime form and the triumphant return of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has boosted the line-up. Jadeja, playing for the first time in almost 14 months, took four wickets in Friday night’s comfortable win against Bangladesh.
India will look to the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah to make the initial breakthroughs and put Pakistan on the back foot before the spinners are introduced. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are the two mainline spinners, but it was Kedar Jadhav, who picked up the most number of wickets among the slow bowlers in the last game against Pakistan.
A fresh pitch will be used for this game, with the curator promising greater pace and bounce than has been evident in the tournament so far. That will be welcome news to Pakistan, who draw their bowling strength from their battery of pacers. The heat continues to be the enduring issue, and both sides will be eager to put the other in the field under the blazing sun. Pitches are slow, and swing is in short supply, so expect plenty of overs to be bowled by the spinners.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi/Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan Shinwari
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.