Asia Cup 2022, India vs Pakistan: India’s old guard ready with new approach against ‘unfamiliar’ foes Pakistan
Asia Cup 2022, India vs Pakistan: When Rohit Sharma-led India prepares to settle the score with Pakistan in the pivotal Asia Cup encounter here on Sunday, they will do it with a captain who has a new approach to batting and a master batter who is at a crossroads and seeking to reinvent himself.
The two cornerstones of India’s white-ball team for the previous ten years, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, now know exactly where they are and what they need to do to turn the tables after receiving a rude awakening during the T20 World Cup 10 months ago at this same location.
While Kohli will have the ideal opportunity to regain his form after going through a difficult period in the past few years, Rohit will be eager to showcase his ultra-aggressive batting blueprint against the Asian giants.
There would also be a wider picture, which would be to organise the core lineup for the T20 World Cup in Australia by the conclusion of this competition.
The geo-political tension does always create for a heady build-up, even though there haven’t been any bilateral conflicts between the cross-border neighbours in the past ten years and none are imminent.
However, the absence of regular matches means that Indo-Pak rivalries are more frequently played amongst foreign opponents than against familiar ones.
When a team only faces that opponent once or twice a year, it is difficult to prepare for them, so one must be prepared for the unexpected.
When India and Pakistan last faced off, neither team knew how far Shaheen Shah Afridi had advanced. The outcome was a 10-wicket loss.
Three seniors and a battle ahead
Afridi’s two-over opening session during the last T20 World Cup start caused a lot of talk, and India’s former team management did take some heat for their antiquated batting strategy in the shortest form of the game.
There have been concerns about whether the top order’s uniformity—three right-handers—could make it simple for a skilled left-arm paceman to raise red flags.
However, Afridi won’t be available on Sunday (because to a knee injury) to bend the ball back into the top three right-handers for India. But the top order hasn’t changed since the Dubai disaster, despite all of Rahul Dravid’s experiments.
With their enthusiastic approach, the duo of Rishabh Pant and Rohit showed a lot of promise. And Suryakumar Yadav at the top appeared scary with his all-around strokes.
Even if Deepak Hooda was a daring opener against Ireland. Experience will take precedence going into a big game because Kohli and KL Rahul are both available.
KL Rahul is making a comeback in the new setup following surgery and a COVD-19-related layoff. In 2022, he hasn’t participated in a single international T20 match.
In Kohli’s example, the total is now four after scoring 50 runs against a weak West Indies attack.
Rohit has produced a few cute little knocks. But more importantly, he has adjusted his batting approach to suit the demands of the squad.
Will Rahul and Kohli be able to replicate this? That will continue to be a significant question.
“It’s great to see the new approach of Indian team, started after the last World Cup. Following the words of captain by everyone, we are hoping to continue this,” vice-captain Rahul said on Friday during a media interaction.
The Suryakumar, Pant, and Hardik Pandya trio’s performance between overs 10 and 20 will, however, be crucial. With Dinesh Karthik, the projected finisher, likely sitting out. The trio’s explosive strength could perhaps put an end to the Pakistan onslaught without Afridi.
Babar Azam and his men
Compared to some of the legendary Pakistanis who have coached the national team throughout the years. Babar Azam is completely different.
Babar, a player who values method as much as talent, has brought a level-headedness. That has been effective more often than not in the previous two years since he took over.
He forms a strong top duo with Mohammed Rizwan, but neither of them has a strike rate more than 130.
Will it work when they bat first? It worked beautifully when they chased a low total in Dubai last year.
Fakhar Zaman, who bats third, also adds stability, but the other batters haven’t demonstrated enough consistency. Even while players like the colourful Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah, and Haider Ali are good. They haven’t had many consistent runs at the international level.
Will Bumrah-less India go for extra spinner?
If missing Afridi is a big setback for Pakistan, not having Jasprit Bumrah is no less a blow for India.
For India, not having Jasprit Bumrah is no less of a shock than Pakistan’s loss of Shahid Afridi.
In his absence (back injury) and the absence of dependable T20 spinner Harshal Patel (rib-cage injury). Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be joined by Arshdeep Singh, a young expert in death overs.
Arshdeep’s abilities will be put to the test, but more so his temperament under pressure.
The addition of Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya does give some balance. But the sticking point will be whether Rohit and interim head coach VVS Laxman choose to bench fast Avesh Khan in favour of extra spinners Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravi Bishnoi. They might be wasteful and lethal at the same time.
This promises to be a better contest than the last one.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammed Hasnain, Hasan Ali.