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It may be clichéd to say but there is no bigger rivalry than India vs Pakistan in cricket. The two sides share a long and tumultuous history of political differences, wars, and differences in ideologies. Cricket is the most obvious shared passion among the two nations and both sides want to ensure they have the upper hand.
Pakistan has traditionally had the upper hand against India when it comes to cricket. Their sides have dominated India over long durations of time, particularly in ODI cricket. That started to change around the turn of the millennium and more of a parity has emerged between the two nations.
Since the two sides only compete against each other in multilateral tournaments nowadays, encounters between them are much rarer. Pakistan won the final of the Champions Trophy against India the last tie they met and will be keen to build on that. India, on the other hand, is going to be without Virat Kohli but keen to get some revenge none the less.
In a tournament designed to ensure a minimum of two and maybe three India vs Pakistan Asia Cup 2018 matches, landing the first bowl may be very important.
There are a couple of disadvantages that are going to be facing India when they come into this match. The team has just finished its tour of England a few days back and so could not start its Asia Cup campaign until all other teams had played. As a result, India will be playing two back to back matches in the searing heat of the UAE.
That is not an easy task even though the first match is going to be against Hong Kong. Hopefully, India will be smart enough to rest its leading players before the match against Pakistan.
The other major disadvantage that India will have is unfamiliarity with the conditions. While the strip may be similar to that found in the subcontinent, never having played at the venue before this tournament means that a period of adjustment is understandable.
Still, India should not be counted out from this contest under any circumstances. India’s batting is weaker without Virat Kohli but it is by no means a weak batting side per say. The onus will be on Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to provide the start they so often do in ODI cricket.
The top-3 for India is always the most crucial. Now, with Kohli not there, we expect to see the in-form Lokesh Rahul bat at 3 followed by Ambati Rayadu at 4, Dhoni at 5, Kedar Jadhav at 6, and Hardik Pandya at 7.
This is a very good side. Lokesh Rahul is a brilliant white ball player, Ambati Rayadu had a fantastic IPL where he scored runs from every batting position imaginable and the lower middle order has plenty of striking power as well.
We don’t think this Indian side is going to struggle for runs in this match or the entire tournament. A few early wickets, though, could put pressure on the middle order. Dhoni struggled in England, Kedar Jadhav is making a comeback after a long time, and Hardik Pandya is a bit unpredictable as well.
Among the bowlers, we think India will play its full strength side with Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, and Bhuvaneshawar Kumar for this match. A couple of them may have been rested for the Hong Kong match to keep them fresh but that remains to be seen.
This is a very well balanced Indian side that has some questions about its middle order but not too much else to worry about. We think they will go into this match as favorites against Pakistan.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, JJ Bumrah, YS Chahal.
Pakistan started its campaign in the Asia Cup with an easy victory against Hong Kong. That light workout would have given it a good idea of the conditions that they will face against India. As things stand, Pakistan is being billed as the strongest team in this tournament.
There are a couple of reasons for Pakistan fans to be very excited about the direction of their ODI side. The team is fielding better than it has ever fielded in the past, it is fitter than it has ever been before, and there are some very good young batsmen coming up to complement the bowling.
Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, and Babar Azam seem to have formed a top-order that will be around for a long time in Pakistan cricket. Fakhar Zaman is aggressive and can be expected to take the attack to the bowling while the other two are more circumspect.
Batting at a quick rate and scoring over 330 has been a bit of a problem for Pakistan in the past but this side has addressed some of those issues. We still think that the Pakistan batting is vulnerable to collapse and the lack of an established hitter in the middle order could come back to haunt them.
Shoaib Malik in the middle of the side is the most important player in our opinion. He has tremendous experience of playing in big match situations and raises his game against the Indians on most occasions. With the likes of Sarfaraz Ahmed, Asif Ali, and Faheem Ashraf in the side, the length of the batting does not look to be an issue.
Perhaps the quality of batting, though, is still nowhere a top-international side would like it to be.
Pakistan, though, more than makes up for its lack of batting depth in the bowling department. Mohammad Amir has a brilliant record against Rohit Sharma. If he is able to get him out early again, then half the battle would be won for Pakistan.
Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan, and Faheem Ashraf are all wicket taking bowlers that will keep coming at the strong Indian batting. It may seem like a played out trope but this match is going to be about Pakistan’s bowling against the Indian batting.
The lack of a second spinner is the only thing that could hamper Pakistan in this game.
F Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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The weather in Dubai has been very hot. Temperatures are hovering in the mid-forties and that is sapping the energy of the players in the field. The pitch has been very slow and has absolutely nothing in it for the fast bowlers. Run-scoring is pretty easy but accelerating at the end seems to be difficult.
India has won 6 out of the last 10 matches between the two sides including two out of the last three. The UAE is, however, Pakistan’s home ground and they have extensive experience of playing here. The match will be a closely contested one but we think that India should be able to win out in the end.
Back India to win
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