After a gap of four years, India and Pakistan are set to set the cricket world on fire as both sides clash in the Asia Cup 2023 match on Saturday, September 2. India remain the favourites to win the game but Pakistan pose a big challenge after thrashing Nepal by 238 runs in the opening game of the tournament.
Fans will be eager to witness some player battles with the biggest stars clashing at Pallekele Stadium to overcome each other for glory. Eyes will be set on in-form figures Virat Kohli and Babar Azam but both the batters are expected to face tough challenges. So, let’s take a look at three player battles that will decide the match’s result on Saturday.
1. Rohit Sharma vs Shaheen Afridi
Indian captain boosts amazing records across formats against Pakistan and his performance will be crucial for India in the upcoming game. He has scored 720 runs in just 16 ODIs against Pakistan at an average of 51.42 with two hundreds and six fifties so far. Among active cricketers, he is the leading runscorer in the India-Pakistan ODI encounters but faces a threatening challenge from speedster Shaheen Afridi.
Shaheen famously bowled out Rohit on a golden duck during the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 and has conceded just four runs in two T20I innings against the Indian captain. In ODIs, Rohit faced Shaheen on just one occasion during the 2018 Asia Cup clash where he scored 18 runs off 19 balls without losing his wicket to star pacer.
2. Babar Azam vs Kuldeep Yadav
Babar Azam dominated the ICC ODI rankings and has been in sensational form ahead of the India game. He smashed 151 runs against Nepal in the opening match and will pose the biggest threat against India. However, he has yet to score a fifty against India in five ODI matches. He has struggled against the Indian spin attack, especially against Kuldeep Yadav.
Kuldeep has dominated Babar with two wickets in three ODI innings so far. Babar scored just 18 runs off 34 balls while facing India’s in-form spinner so it will be an interesting battle to watch out for at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
3. Virat Kohli vs Haris Rauf
Virat Kohli always tries to produce his best game when facing Pakistan and further steps up in big tournaments. Virat has amazing numbers while playing against Pakistan across all formats and he will be raring to take on an in-form Pakistan pace attack in the upcoming game.
Playing mostly in the middle overs, Virat is expected to face the fiery spells of speedster Haris Rauf. Kohli stunned the cricket world when he pulled off a sensational six off Rauf with a straight bat during India’s ICC T20 World Cup 2022 match against Pakistan in Melbourne. Kohl and Rauf are yet to face off in ODIs but the batter has smashed the in-form pacer for 42 runs at a strike rate of 131.25 in T20Is.
India Asia Cup Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma
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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