In the last five years, India have suffered two crushing defeats against Pakistan in mega-tournaments – 2017 Champions Trophy (finals) and 2021 T20 World Cup (group-stage). Now, the two star-studded teams are set to add another chapter to the iconic rivalry. They will lock horns in the Asia Cup 2022 at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
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India vice-captain KL Rahul recently spoke about the intensity of an India-Pakistan game. The 30-year-old said that he is ready to “challenge himself” and pounce on Babar Azam and co in his bid to exact the revenge of the humiliation suffered during T20 World Cup last year.
The focus however lies on Virat Kohli. The star-batter has been struggling for runs in 2022. He has not scored a century since 2019. He will be making his 100th T20I appearance on Sunday and would want to mark the occassion with a win.
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“My main aim is to help India win the Asia Cup and the World Cup and I am ready to do anything for the team to make it possible,” Kohli said recently.
To support Kohli and skipper Rohit Sharma at the top, Suryakumar Yadav is expected to bat at No 4. The likes of KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant make a strong batting lineup.
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Pakistan, on ther other hand, have to rely on its second-string pace attack after destructive pace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out for at least four to six weeks because of a knee injury.
It suffered a second blow in its pace armory on Friday when young Mohammad Wasim Junior was also ruled out because of side strain.
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Young fast bowlers Mohammad Hasnain, who is making a comeback after remodeling his bowling action, and uncapped Naseem Shah could be in line to supplement Haris Rauf and challenge a strong India batting lineup. Shahnawaz Dahani is another fast bowling option for Pakistan.
Naseem made an impressive debut in white-ball cricket in the recent ODI series against the Netherlands, claiming 10 wickets in three games that included a five-wicket haul in the last match at Rotterdam to seal Pakistan’s 3-0 victory.