The wait is almost over as India and Pakistan face off on Saturday in the ongoing Asia Cup. Over the years, the India-Pakistan matches have witnessed some interesting match-ups. With Kandy set to host an India-Pakistan game for the first time, one can expect fireworks at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Team India arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, while the Pakistan players touched down in Kandy two days ahead of the clash, having thrashed Nepal in the tournament opener in Multan.
Both teams are expected to take part in a practice session later on Friday, before renewing their rivalry on Saturday.
Ahead of the match, here are five player match-ups to look forward to:
Rohit Sharma vs Shaheen Afridi
In recent times, Indian openers have struggled against left-arm pacers, especially with the new ball. And India captain Rohit Sharma hasn’t been immune to left-arm quicks either.
During the Asia Cup last year, Shaheen trapped him LBW with a brilliant inswinger. Rohit’s ability to tackle left-arm pacers will be put into test when India take on Pakistan.
However, Shaheen is yet to dismiss Rohit in ODI cricket.
Shubman Gill vs Naseem Shah
In Shubman Gill and Naseem Shah, India and Pakistan have two future superstars who could be the flagbearers for their respective teams going forward.
Naseem troubled the Indian openers during the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup last year, and it will be interesting to see how Gill tackles him on the night.
Both are yet to face off against each other in international cricket.
Babar Azam vs Kuldeep Yadav
With the uncertainty around Jasprit Bumrah’s participation on Saturday, the onus will be on Kuldeep Yadav, when it comes to negating the class of Pakistan captain Babar Azam.
In five ODIs, Babar has scored 158 runs at an average of 31.60 against India. The star batter is in red-hot form after scoring 151 off 131 balls against Nepal in the Asia Cup opener.
However, Kuldeep knows how to get the better of Babar, having dismissed him during the 2019 World Cup in England. He’ll surely fancy his chances once again.
Virat Kohli vs Haris Rauf
Haris Rauf wouldn’t have forgotten the hammering he received at the expense of Virat Kohli in T20 World Cup last year. Rauf seemed unplayable until Kohli stepped him and took him on for fun.
It is fair to say that Kohli single-handedly won the game for India, after Rauf had done the damage early on in the match. One can expect fireworks when these two magicians collide.
But so far, it’s 1-0 to Virat Kohli against Haris Rauf.
Hardik Pandya vs Shadab Khan
Shadab has been one of Babar’s go-to bowlers, especially when the chips are down. Also, his In the last match against Nepal, Shadab picked four wickets. He has also proved to be a handy customer with the bat.
Hardik, on the other hand, is far more potent batter who has is more than just a power-hitter. His partnership with Kohli last year was key for India given the context of the match.
However, his contribution with the ball will be key, especially considering the lack of depth in that department.