The imminent Asia Cup clash between cricketing powerhouses India and Pakistan is not only a fervently anticipated contest but also a pivotal preparation step for the forthcoming ODI World Cup scheduled for October-November. India unveiled their squad last week and is intensifying preparations through a training camp in Alur, Bengaluru. Players have undertaken YoYo Tests and are engaged in practice sessions tailored to mirror potential match scenarios.
Meanwhile, arch-rivals Pakistan made a resounding statement with their dominant performance in the recently concluded ODI series against Afghanistan, emerging victorious with a 3-0 margin. The electrifying face-off between the two teams is scheduled for September 2 in Kandy, and the possibility of three encounters throughout the tournament looms large, contingent on their progression to the Super Fours and subsequent final.
The historic rivalry and the confined nature of their clashes to continental and international tournaments make the India-Pakistan encounter a spectacle to behold. However, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram emphasized the peril of underestimating other contenders.
Wasim Akram cautioned, “India versus Pakistan is very important, we know about so much support (teams get), so many eyeballs, so many people (following). But other teams are also here to play so you cannot minus Sri Lanka or Bangladesh,” as quoted by PTI.
Team India is en route to Sri Lanka with a potent spin trio comprising Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel. The wicketkeeper-batter duo features KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan, with Sanju Samson in the reserve role. The return of Shreyas Iyer from injury bolsters India’s batting lineup.
While Wasim Akram acknowledged India’s “balanced” squad, he affirmed that the path won’t be easy for Rohit Sharma’s squad in the continental tournament. “I think they are trying different things, new players especially in the T20 format, also a new captain. They have a balanced squad. But it will not be easy for India or any team,” he opined.
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India’s journey commences against arch-rivals Pakistan on September 2 in Kandy, followed by a matchup with Nepal in Group A. Eager to transcend the setbacks of the previous year’s Asia Cup, where they were eliminated in the Super Fours stage, India aims for a triumphant campaign. Remarkably, Rohit Sharma, the current vice-captain, led India to victory in the 2018 Asia Cup, stepping in for rested captain Virat Kohli during the victorious campaign against Bangladesh in the final held in Dubai.