Asia Cup 2018: India, Pakistan eager to renew rivalry in UAE
The absence of Virat Kohli might have taken off some gleam but the enthusiasm and energy ahead of an India-Pakistan never fades away. India and Pakistan enter the Asia Cup 2018 as the hot favorites to win the tournament.
If everything goes according to plan, there can be as many as three India-Pakistan matches in the tournament. With one in the group league, one in the super four stage and in the final if both sides make it that far. If they do, it will also be the first India-Pakistan final in an Asia Cup.
Both the teams will be facing each other for the 130th time in ODI on Wednesday. Pakistan leads the head to head with 73 wins while India has won 52 matches. Four times the match ended without a result.
For India, it will be a chance to see how the team reacts and handles pressure in the absence of Virat Kohli. Pakistani batsman Imam-ul-Haq also feels that the Indian team will be tested without Kohli as he stated, "Kohli's absence will make a difference in India vs Pakistan match."
It will be a big test for Rohit Sharma as the responsibility to lead the team has been given to him. He has led the Indian side before but this will be his biggest assignment yet. He will be looking to get his form back and settle the Indian middle order while also providing MS Dhoni with the perfect batting position that makes the most of his ability and helps the team.
It will be interesting to see how India plays a quality Pakistan side that has a peerless bowler Mohammed Amir and fearless batsmen like Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, and Haris Sohail. India will be hoping to gain some confidence back after losing the Test series 4-1 against England.
Pakistan has not lost a series this year since January. After losing the ODI series 5-0 to New Zealand in January, the team has been in tremendous form and has been playing good cricket consistently.
However, their performances in UAE haven't been great, especially in ODIs. The team has only won 2 ODI series since 2010 when they shifted their home matches in UAE. The Champions Trophy winners would like to make a statement by winning the Asia Cup, which this year was moved from India to the UAE.
Pakistan will count on their fearless Young stars and experienced campaigners. The intrepid batting order of Pakistan will be tested against the in-form Indian bowling attack containing world class pacers in Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
The fans expect the match to be as exciting as every India-Pakistan match is irrespective of what the result is.
Indian Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan , KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed.
Pakistan Squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam Ul Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (C, WK), Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi