After a thrilling match in the group stage which saw India win in the last over, Rohit Sharma and Co are set to face Pakistan again at the 2022 Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. – this time in the Super Four stage.

Facing their rivals for the first time after losing by 10 wickets at the 2021 T20 World Cup, India rode on some fine performances by Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to turn things around and defeat Pakistan by five wickets in the tournament opener for both teams.

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After bowling-out Pakistan for 147, with Bhuvneshwar picking 4/26, India chased down the target in 19.4 overs as Pandya finished the match with a six and remained unbeaten on 33 off 17. It was his 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (35 off 29) that kept India in the game.

India then went on to seal their spot in the Super Four stage with a 40-run victory against Hong Kong. While Virat Kohli found some much-needed runs (59* off 44) in that match, it was Suryakumar Yadav’s breathtaking knock of 68* off 26 that set up the win for the defending champions.

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Pakistan, too, bounced back from their opening loss to India and earned an emphatic win against Hong Kong to qualify for the Super Fours. Keeper-opener Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 78 off 57 and Khushdil Shah’s cameo helped Babar Azam and Co post a daunting total of 193/2, before leg-spinner Shadab Khan (4/8) stole the show as Hong Kong were bowled-out for a paltry 38 runs in 10.4 overs.

These results meant India and Pakistan were pitted against each other once again to begin their Super Four legs of the tournament. Both teams have had injury setbacks, though. While all-rounder Jadeja is ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury and been replaced by Axar Patel in the Indian squad, Pakistan’s right-arm pacer Shahnawaz Dahani can’t play Sunday’s match due to a side strain.

In terms of batting for India, the middle order runs in the two matches so far have been a positive. Pandya showed his class with a composed finish against Pakistan and Suryakumar was at another level against Hong Kong. Kohli’s score’s of 35* and 59 have been a plus too but it’s the openers that need to find form.

Skipper Rohit looked good against Hong Kong after struggling against Pakistan but hasn’t gotten a big score so far in the tournament. KL Rahul, on the other hand, has had a tough campaign in what is his comeback series after a lengthy spell of absence.

Rahul was bowled off the first ball against Pakistan and scored a laboured 39-ball 36 against Hong Kong. It was a knock that raised many questions, with the right-hander playing just one attacking stroke in the powerplay (a six off a free hit). The team management is likely to be patient with him but it’s the intent, more than the touch, that they would expect to see improved.

On the bowling front, Bhuvneshwar and Yuzvendra Chahal have been dependable for the most part but Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh’s form will be a concern for India. The duo were expensive against Hong Kong and with no other pacer in the squad, India could be tempted to play an extra spinner instead. Avesh is unlikely to feature anyway.

However, perhaps the more important decision for India is Jadeja’s replacement. Axar is a good like-for-like replacement or another option is to play Pandya as the fifth bowler and include both Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant in the playing XI. Axar replacing Jadeja and Pant replacing Avesh also seems possible. Not to forget, R Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi are in the squad too and could get a game.

Pakistan may have lost their opening match but the massive win against Hong Kong would have got their confidence back up. With Sri Lanka and Afghanistan being the other teams in the Super Fours, whoever wins on Sunday will take a big step towards securing a spot in the final.

Quotes corner

India head coach Rahul Dravid: “We know Pakistan is a good team and it is a challenging match. It will be a packed stadium and there is always an edge to these games and it’s good to play such games where you are tested. It’s good to play such tournaments before the World Cup.”

Pakistan keeper-opener Mohammad Rizwan: “Playing India is always a pressure game. The whole world, even beyond Asia, waits for it. The pressure will be equally on India and us, but the result will be with whoever remains brave and keeps calm.”


India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali, Haider Ali.

The match will begin at 7.30 IST on Sunday, September 4, and will be telecast on the Hotstar app and the Star Sports network.