The anticipation is building in Kandy as Team India gears up to face Babar Azam’s formidable Pakistani squad in the highly awaited Asia Cup 2023 clash. This face-off marks a significant moment as it’s the first time they meet in the fifty-over format since the 2019 World Cup. With Pakistan coming off a series of victories, this encounter promises to be a challenging one for India.
Babar Azam’s team showcased their dominance recently by trouncing Afghanistan 3-0 in a bilateral ODI series and delivering a crushing 238-run defeat to Nepal in the Asia Cup opener in Multan. Unwavering in their confidence, the hosts have decided to maintain their unchanged XI lineup for the upcoming showdown against India at Pallekele stadium.
One of the most compelling aspects of this match will be the battle between India’s star-studded batting lineup and Pakistan’s fierce pace attack, spearheaded by the left-arm pacer, Shaheen Shah Afridi. Afridi has consistently troubled Indian batters in recent years, making him a significant threat in this encounter.
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, offering his insights on the Star Sports show ‘Game Plan,’ had a clear message for openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. Gambhir urged them to adopt a proactive approach rather than a conservative one against the formidable Pakistani pace duo.
“Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, your approach has to be clear against Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah. Look at scoring runs, not surviving. When you score runs, you are in better rhythm and have better backlift and footwork,” emphasized Gambhir.
He further highlighted the importance of batting with a positive mindset in the ODI format, where batters have the luxury of time to settle into their groove. “The more positive you are, the more you create pressure. Keep it simple, the past is in the past. It’s a new day, a new match, a different format. Be in attacking mode,” he added.
Rohit Sharma also addressed the upcoming challenge in a pre-match press conference, acknowledging the quality of the Pakistani trio comprising Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Rauf. He emphasized that while India may not have the exact bowlers in the nets, they are prepared to use their experience against these formidable opponents.
“We don’t have Shaheen, Naseem, and Rauf in the nets. We practice with what we have. All three are quality bowlers. Pakistan always had quality bowlers. We have seen their strengths and weaknesses. We will use our experience against them,” Rohit Sharma confidently stated.
The stage is set for an enthralling showdown as the cricketing world eagerly awaits this clash of giants in the Asia Cup 2023.