Pakistan will face their first real test when they take on India in the highly-anticipated Asia Cup 2023 match on Saturday, September 2. Babar Azam-led side registered an impressive and dominant 238-run over Nepal in their opening game of the tournament at Multan but will be facing a totally different challenge against India at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
It will be tough to predict the winner of the match as both teams show no weakness going into the game and pose some of the biggest stars in their team. For Pakistan, the focus will be on Babar Azam’s performance as the world no.1 ODI batter is in sensational form across formats. He smashed 151 runs, his first hundred in the Asia Cup, against Nepal and scored two back-to-back fifties against Afghanistan in the recent ODIs.
When asked about the team’s preparation for the India game, Babar highlighted their experience of playing in Sri Lanka in the last few weeks. The majority of senior players featured in the Lanka Premier League followed by the three ODIs against Afghanistan and on the other hand, India last played in Sri Lanka in July 2021. Babar feels that the familiarity with playing conditions will be a big bonus for his team against India on Saturday.
“We have been here (in Sri Lanka) since July,” Babar said in the pre-match press conference at Pallekele on Friday. “We have played Test matches, some league (LPL) matches and then the ODIs (against Afghanistan). We are hoping that this will help us to do well against India tomorrow.
“There is no extra pressure. Yes, the India vs Pakistan match is always one of high intensity, but we have experienced players and we just need to concentrate on our strengths and do well.”
Surprisingly, Pakistan also revealed their playing eleven for India match a few minutes after Babar’s press conference at Pallekele. They remained with the same team that recorded a huge win over Nepal, leaving Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Wasim on the bench again.
Pakistan Playing XI vs India: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan(vc), Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf
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