Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, on Saturday, said his side will have an edge over India in their Asia Cup Super Four clash, with a bowling line-up ready to win matches and tournaments.
The arch-rivals meet again in Colombo on Sunday after their group match was abandoned due to rain, which has played havoc with the 50-over tournament that is a precursor to the ODI World Cup in India.
An India–Pakistan clash remains one of the most hotly anticipated matches in world cricket because the two South Asian neighbours only play each other in multi-nation tournaments due to political tensions.
Pakistan won their opening match of the Super Four stage and a second win will further enhance their chances of making the final on September 17.
But rain in the Sri Lankan capital is expected to play spoilsport again in the match, for which a reserve day has been kept aside.
“You can say we have the edge, as we have played back-to-back cricket here (in Sri Lanka) and in Pakistan,” Azam told reporters the day before in Colombo.
“It has been two-and-a-half months in Sri Lanka including the Test series, Lanka Premier League, Afghanistan series and now the Asia Cup. So you can say it will be advantage (for us).”
Pakistan’s pace trio of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf have stood out, with 23 wickets between them so far.
Shaheen, a left-arm quick who leads the bowling, rattled India with his opening burst in the group match, taking the key wickets of skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
India opener Shubman Gill said not playing Pakistan regularly made it tough to gauge the opposition.
“We all know that their bowling attack is quite good and when you don’t play against such attacks often it makes a bit of difference in main tournaments,” said Gill.
Gill, who was bowled by Rauf for 10 in Pallekele last week, and the Indian batters have been facing a left-arm specialist in their training to counter Shaheen. He said the variation “helps”.
India managed to post 266 all out after they slipped to 66-4 against Pakistan last week and Gill said the team has taken confidence from the fightback.
“Openers need to make a good start and need to dominate them from the beginning,” he said.
“In the league match, our top order did not click much, still we made a competitive total...so, it was a good sign.”
Azam said the team believes their bowlers can win them titles.
“Proud to have the fast bowlers that we have. One of the best (in the world),” said Azam.
“Fast bowlers win you tournaments and matches and I have total belief (in) them. The line-up that we have including Naseem and Faheem (Ashraf) is the best lot that we have.”
Meanwhile Pakistan announced their team for the big match, keeping an unchanged lineup from their seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Super Four opener.
Pakistan team: Babar Azam (C), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Faheem Ashraf