Asia Cup 2018, India-Pakistan: The clash of the tournament
The Asia Cup is an exciting tournament for the Asian teams and it has a long history. This is the 14th edition of the Asia Cup and UAE will host the tournament after 23 years. Previously, UAE hosted the tournament twice in 1984 and 1995.
The Asia Cup was held in Bangladesh last time and it was played in T20 format. But the tournament will be in ODI format this year and it will be an ideal preparation for the participating teams before the World Cup next year. There are six teams who will play in the tournament this year and the teams are divided into two groups. India, Pakistan and Hong Kong are in Group A. Similarly, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are in Group B.
Meanwhile, arch-rivals India and Pakistan are in Group A and they will face each other on 19th September. This match will be undoubtedly the match of the tournament. These two teams faced each other fifteen months ago in the Champions Trophy final and Pakistan became victorious. However, they have a chance to face each other in the Asia Cup final as well.
Before the Champions Trophy final, the two teams clashed in the group stage of the Champions Trophy and India crushed Pakistan in the group stage match. But this time the story is quite different. India will play the Asia Cup without the star batsman and regular skipper Virat Kohli. As a matter of fact, his absence might give Pakistan the upper hand.
India still has a formidable side without Virat Kohli and they are capable of doing well. India has top-notch experienced openers like Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. The stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma is undoubtedly one of the best ODI batsmen in the world and he can dismantle any bowling line up on his day. Likewise, the players like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik are adept in scoring big runs.
Additionally, MS Dhoni is India's most experienced player in the Asia Cup and the former captain will be a huge asset for the Men in Blue. In the absence of Kohli, he could be a headache for Pakistan. On the other hand, India's bowlers have been awe-inspiring in last two years and they could give a good competition to the stupendous Pakistani bowling unit. Virat Kohli is known to be a chase-master and he helped India to win several matches. Therefore, India will definitely try to avoid chasing without Virat Kohli.
Pakistan will be highly confident after their last victory in the Champions Trophy final. The Men in Green have an improved squad this time and they have a well-balanced team. Pakistan's openers have been impressive recently and they are proficient of scoring big knocks. Fakhar Zaman was the hero of the Champions Trophy final and he will be eager to repeat the same performance on 19th September. Imam Ul Haq recently had an incredible series against Zimbabwe and the talented batsman will be determined to make a mark in the mega clash.
In addition, Babar Azam and experienced Shoaib Malik are important players of the middle-order. Pakistan's bowling unit is one of the best in the tournament and they have awe-inspiring bowlers like Mohammed Amir, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi. They are proficient in destroying any batting line up.
Thus both the teams have spectacular players and it is expected to be a thrilling contest. Kohli's absence might give Pakistan an advantage but India still has an exceptional team to win the contest.