The Asia Cup 2022 is set to begin on August 27 and participants are already gearing up for the continental tournament. While the tournament begins on Sunday, the highlight of the Asia Cup will be witnessed a day later, on Monday, when South Asian rivals India and Pakistan take on each other.

As a preparatory tournament for the Asian teams ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year, the Asia Cup will also be played in T20 format. While the primary aim of the Asia Cup is to be a preparatory tournament, it will be a very different story for India, who is looking forward to answering the humiliation they had to go through the last time the Men in Blue faced Pakistan in a tournament.

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India faced Pakistan in the 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup, which was also organised in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pakistan registered a landmark 10-wicket victory over Team India in the game, something that did not sit well with the Indian fans.

Since the defeat, India has concentrated its efforts in the shortest format of International cricket. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently announced the country’s Asia Cup squad, which many thought was top-heavy, with important bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah (injury) and Mohammed Shami missing out.

Former Pakistani bowler Sarfaraz Khan has since urged his country to try and capitalise on India’s weak bowling lineup in the continental tournament. But, the question remains, will Pakistan be able to replicate their performance a year ago in Sharjah again at the same venue in the Asia Cup?

Many would like to believe that the failure in the previous T20 World Cup was down to the bowlers. And, it was, to some extent. The Indian batting lineup was handed a surprise by Shaheen Afridi, Pakistan’s ace left-arm pacer, a characteristic that has since become one of the most valuable in International cricket. England has Reece Topley, New Zealand has Trent Boult, and Australia has Mitchell Starc — you guessed it right, India does not have one of the same profile.

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The closest India has to the profile is Khaleel Ahmed, but he has not impressed anyone till now. But will it be India’s biggest issue at the Asia Cup? Probably not, since Shaheen Afridi has been ruled out of the tournament due to an injury.

India’s biggest problem will be the unavailability of Jasprit Bumrah, who also received an injury on the tour of England and is currently recovering. But India has named a very different lineup for the Asia Cup. While seniors like Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin have been included in the squad, Team India has named the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan to the squad too, all of whom have impressed in the past year.

Chahal was one of India’s most important members on the tour of England and received a decent boost in his ICC rankings later. Ravi Bishnoi (21), Arshdeep Singh (23), and Avesh Khan (25) are all upcoming bowlers, who are relatively lesser known on the International stages.

India will probably begin with three pacers and two spinners in the Asia Cup against Pakistan. Hardik Pandya, Arshdeep Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar can become the focal points of pace attacks while Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja could become the spinners. While one might argue that a specialist spinner will be needed, Ravichandran Ashwin has played less than five T20I matches in the ongoing year and does not feel like other than a safe backup option for the Asia Cup.

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The onus will be on the younger Indian pacers to prove themselves. Granted, India could have called Mohammed Shami to the squad. However, if memory serves right, he was part of the squad in the T20 World Cup that was defeated by Pakistan and had very little to do as he conceded 43 runs in 3.5 overs, the highest among Indian bowlers.

One of Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Bishnoi and Avesh Khan will be a part of India’s match against Pakistan and it will be him who will have to make the difference in absence of Bumrah.