After a fairly long wait, cricket fans from all over the world will come together to witness one of the game’s biggest rivalries. As we gear up for yet another India vs Pakistan clash, we take a look at the team news and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.
Team news: India vs Pakistan
T20 World rank: 1
Recent T20 form: W W W L W
The Indians have been on a dream run in the Twenty20 circuit, with series wins in Australia and Sri Lanka and sit pretty at the top of the ICC World T20 rankings. Everything has fallen in place for the men in blue as the squad looks very well-balanced. Young pacer Jasprit Bumrah has been a revelation and has taken the opponents by surprise with his on-point yorkers at the death. Hardik Pandya too proved his mettle with the bat and the ball in the Asia cup opener against Bangladesh and helped India recover from a precarious 97-4 to a respectable 166-6.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been among the runs and one can expect more fireworks from these batsmen in tomorrow’s India vs Pakistan clash. The bowling has been very disciplined, thanks to Ashish Nehra’s early strikes and some brilliant economical bowling by the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
The weak links:
Left-handers Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh have not really played the kind of cricket one would expect them to. These batsmen can be devastating on a given day and Indian fans would hope that the game against Pakistan would help these players break the shackles and regain their form.
Probable playing XI:
As we all know, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni does not like to change his winning combination much, we can expect an unchanged Indian side from their win against Bangladesh on Wednesday. However, there is a possibility that Shikhar Dhawan may make way for Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the order given his current form.
The Playing XI: Shikhar Dhawan/Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (C/WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah.
T20 World Rank: 6
Recent T20 form: L L W L L
Things have not been great for Pakistan when it comes to recent form as they suffered back to back series defeats at the hands of England and New Zealand. However, that will not affect the team’s morale as every India vs Pakistan game is a fresh affair and Shahid Afridi & Co. will come out all guns blazing against India.
The recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL) has done a world of good for the Pakistanis as they played alongside and against some of the biggest names in World cricket. Talented pacer Mohammad Amir is slowly getting back into his strides and he would look to threaten the Indian top-order batsmen. The team boasts of a good mix of youth and experience with veterans like Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez in the side along with the evergreen Afridi himself. Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim have impressed in patches and are likely to feature in the playing XI.
Probable playing XI: Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (C), Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Imad Wasim.
India vs Pakistan: The numbers’ game
1. Battle of the Six-Hitters
Shahid Afridi (66) and Yuvraj Singh (65) need 4 and 5 sixes respectively to become the 4th player to have hit 70 or more sixes in T20 internationals. Only Brendon McCullum (91), Chris Gayle (87) and Shane Watson (76) have crossed the mark.
2. Head to head record:
Out of the 6 India vs Pakistan Twenty20 matches, India have enjoyed a clear majority, winning 4 games. Pakistan has won only once and one game ended in a tie which was also the first T20 match played between these two nations in 2007. The match was decided through a bowl-out and India beat their sub-continental rivals 3-0.
When it comes to matches played at the Asia cup, both the teams have won five games apiece and the last time these two sides were up against each other, Afridi produced two sixes in the last over of the match to take Pakistan to victory. It was none other than Ravichandran Ashwin at the bowling end.
Tournament and match: Asia Cup T20 2016, Match 4, India vs Pakistan
Day, date and time: Saturday, 27th February 2016, 19:30 Local time, 19:00 IST
Venue: Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
TV Guide: Star Sports 1, 3, HD1 and HD3.