We are just a sleep away from witnessing another India vs Pakistan classic as both teams square off in an Asia Cup 2023 Group A match in Kandy. Historically, the rivalry between India and Pakistan was highly intense both on and off the field. However, in recent times, players from both teams have often expressed mutual respect for each other. Ahead of the match, Pakistan captain Babar Azam praised batting maestro Virat Kohli, who also plenty of good things to say about the team he will be facing on Saturday.
But, when both teams take the field in Kandy, the aim will be to get early bragging rights, with India and Pakistan set to meet once again during the ODI World Cup later this year.
While Pakistan have a better head-to-head overall, India have been the team to beat on big nights.
India have only lost to Pakistan once at World Cups, a 10-wicket defeat during the T20 World Cup in 2021.
In Asia Cup, India have won nine of the 16 encounters against Pakistan since the inception of the tournament in 1984. Pakistan, on the other hand, have sneaked in just six wins in the same period, while one match ended in a no-contest.
Last year, both teams played each other three times, including twice in the Asia Cup. While India had won the game convincingly in the Group stage, Pakistan won the decisive Super 4s clash to reach the final.
Also, considering recent form, Pakistan have a slight edge over India, who have been struggling due to injuries to key players. KL Rahul will miss both group stage games, while Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah are also just returning from their respective injuries.
The problem doesn’t end their. India have several other areas to address, with one of them being Rishabh Pant‘s replacement as wicketkeeper. Pant suffered a car crash last year and has been out of action for the foreseeable future.
In his absence, the management has played musical chairs with Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and Rahul for the role. While Kishan is likely to keep the gloves on Saturday, he could be forced to bat down the order, despite looking more comfortable at the top of the order.
Last but not the least, India’s struggles in the bowling department. Although Bumrah’s return to action during the Ireland series is a big positive, he is still yet to get upto full speed. However, the management don’t have many options.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have a more balanced squad. Most of the players have been part of the team for the past year or so, barring a few additions. Babar is in the form of his life, while the young pace trio — Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah — is a force to reckon with.
At this rate, India might need a coming of the age innings from someone, or a match-winning spell to shrug off the obstacles.
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