“Need to get initial wickets if you want to beat your opponents. On a track which doesn’t swing, you can just bowl stump-to-stump and hope not to give too many runs.” MoM Bhuvneshwar Kumar

“Spinners kept it tight, got the odd breakthrough, but the wickets in the first couple of overs was very important. It was important to get early wickets because they’ve got some quality in the batting.” – IND captain Rohit Sharma

“We did prepare for the two main spinners, but got out to the third one (Jadhav). This is a good wake-up call before the super fours.” – Pak skipper Sarfraz Ahmed

The spinners once again came good for India in the middle overs. Pakistan’s Babar and Malik showed some fight with a neat stand, but after they fell the rest crumbled. Kuldeep and Kedar were in fine form and completely snuffed out any hopes of a fightback from the Pakistani batsmen. India’s openers ruled out any hiccups with a solid start that put the team on course.

India win by eight wickets! IND 164/2 in 29 overs (Rayudu 31*, Karthik 31*)
Karthik and Rayudu get them across the line in emphatic fashion. They get there with 126 balls to spare. The duo added 60 runs for the third wicket. It was Rohit and Dhawan who laid the foundation for the comfortable run-chase.

India win with 126 balls remaining in the second innings — their best ever win margin in an ODI (in terms of overs remaining) against Pakistan.

After 28 overs, IND 154/2 (Rayudu 26*, Karthik 26*)
150 up for India! Another boundary, this time from Rayudu. The finish line is now in sight. Into the single digits. Karthik and Rayudu have now added 51* runs for the third wicket.

After 26 overs, IND 149/2 (Rayudu 20*, Karthik 25*)
Karthik smashes the first boundary in six overs. Shoaib Malik is in the attack and drifts down leg. The batsman sweeps fine and finds the fence.

After 25 overs, IND 137/2 (Rayudu 17*, Karthik 18*)
Amir returns with another tight over. Rayudu, Karthik seem to be in no particular hurry. Victory is all but certain. They just aren’t in a hurry to get there. They still need another 26 runs to win.

After 24 overs, IND 135/2 (Rayudu 16*, Karthik 17*)
Rayudu, Karthik dealing in singles. Don’t seem to bothered about finding the fence. What’s the point of passing the Yo-Yo test if you just have to stand and deliver? India need another 28 runs to win.

After 23 overs, IND 132/2 (Rayudu 15*, Karthik 15*)
Amir back in the attack. He has struggled to take wickets in the recent past. Doesn’t come close to challenging the batsmen in his second spell either. But, conedes just two runs. Pakistan, though need wickets at this moment. India need another 31 runs now from 27 overs.

After 22 overs, IND 130/2 (Rayudu 14*, Karthik 14*)
The result is all but certain at the moment. India look set to win this one. Pakistan will have a few more chances to get back at India. The Champions Trophy panned out the same way. They were beaten comprehensively in the first encounter then before they returned the favour in the final. This time around, they play India again in the Super Four and then potentially in the final.

After 21 overs, IND 129/2 (Rayudu 13*, Karthik 14*)
With Shadab off the field, Sarfraz trying his luck with part-time spinners. May be he’s hoping they can pull off what Kedar did early in the day. Not much time left, though. India need another 34 runs to win.

After 20 overs, IND 121/2 (Rayudu 7*, Karthik 12*)
Gavaskar in the commentary box is miffed at Fakhar Zaman wearing his cap backwards. He feels it’s disrespectful as he represents the country. He also isn’t pleased by Dinesh Karthik’s move to us ‘DK’ on back of his shirt. You know the result is all but decided in this contest.

After 19 overs, IND 118/2 (Rayudu 6*, Karthik 10*)
India still need another 45 runs to win. There’s not much pressure on the batsmen at the moment. Rayudu, Karthik have the luxury of settling down. But, with the finishing line within sight, they might want to get it over with.

After 18 overs, IND 114/2 (Rayudu 5*, Karthik 8*)
Karthik, who has been struggling for form, gets going with a six off Zaman. He needs some runs under his belt. He will want to make most of his time in the middle.

After 17 overs, IND 106/2 (Rayudu 4*, Karthik 1*)
WICKET! Dhawan hits it straight to point. Short and wide by Faheem. It was in the batsman’s zone, but the batsman can’t get it past the fielder.
Dhawan c Babar b Faheem 46 (54b 6x4 1x6)

After 16 overs, IND 100/1 (Shikhar 42*, Rayudu 3*)
100 up for India! Shadab walks off the field with what looks like a back strain. He pulls up right as he got into the delivery stride. Clutches his back and grimaces in pain. Immediately grabs his cap and walks off the field. Trouble for Pakistan. Zaman completes his over.

After 15 overs, IND 98/1 (Shikhar 41*, Rayudu 2*)
It’s been a bit quiet since Rohit’s exit. Rayudu is finding his feet while Dhawan looks to take the charge. Pakistan alternating between pace and spin at either end. India still need another 65 runs to win.

After 14 overs, IND 92/1 (Shikhar 31*, Rayudu 1*)
WICKET! Rohit bowled! Leg-spinner Shadab bamboozles the India skipper off the first delivery of his opening over. Rohit fails to pick the googly and is beaten all ends up.
Rohit b Shadab 52 (39b 6x4 3x6)

After 13 overs, IND 86/0 (Rohit 52*, Shikhar 31*)
Fifty up for Rohit! Gets from 40 to 50 with a six and a four. Masterclass in limited-overs batting by the stand-in India skipper. Be it short or full, Rohit has not trouble dispatching any delivery in these conditions.

After 12 overs, IND 73/0 (Rohit 40*, Shikhar 30*)
Dhawan manages to get a boundary now off Faheem. They are getting a boundary every over. The wicket isn’t doing anything for the bowlers and the batsmen are just in impervious form. India need another 90 runs to win.

After 11 overs, IND 66/0 (Rohit 39*, Shikhar 25*)
Now Dhawan pulls Hasan for a six! The bowler had pitched it short. The batsman gets into position early clears the fence. India still need another 96 runs to win.

After 10 overs, IND 58/0 (Rohit 38*, Shikhar 18*)
Dhawan-Rohit now just toying with the bowlers. They have now added 58* runs for the opening wicket. The Pakistan bowlers are strugglign to find any juice from the flat track. India need another 105 runs to win.

After 9 overs, IND 52/0 (Rohit 37*, Shikhar 14*)
Hasan Ali time for Pakistan. And Rohit welcomes him with a boundary through mid-wicket. Short of length again and Rohit brings out that front foot pull of his to great effect. 50 up for India.

After 8 overs, IND 46/0 (Rohit 32*, Shikhar 13*) - 19 runs from that over
Rohit Sharma has teed off in Dubai! First, a six over fine leg. If the ball’s there to be pulled, Rohit Sharma will pull it. Top edge, but that was a safe shot by Rohit given the pace of Usman Khan and the fine leg being inside the circle. Next ball, four and a free hit! Usman has completely lost his line and length (and his run-up) going around the wicket to Rohit. Pulled by Rohit for four. The free hit is then sent soaring over square leg! That sounded so brilliant coming off the bat... short of length from Usman, sent into the top tier by Rohit.
Top, top batting.

After 7 overs, IND 27/0 (Rohit 15*, Shikhar 12*)
After a series of 0s and 1s, Rohit Sharma breaks the binary sequence with back-to-back boundaries. First up, cuts Amir powerfully for four behind point. Just a hint of width, Rohit latched on to it. Follows up that cut behind point, this time a lovely on-the-up cover drive. All class from Rohit. Getting a move on...

After 6 overs, IND 17/0 (Rohit 6*, Shikhar 11*)
Apologies for the brief delay, a technical snag.
Indian openers continue to remain watchful. Just 3 runs from the last three overs, 15 dot balls. Amir and Usman are not giving anything easy to score. Amir also sneaks in a maiden to Dhawan. Will this pressure translate into a wicket?

After 3 overs, IND 14/0 (Rohit 5*, Shikhar 9*).
Dhawan drives Amir through the covers for a delightful boundary as India get a move on in their chase. They stll need another 149 runs to win.

After 2 overs, IND 7/0 (Rohit 5*, Shikhar 2*).
Rohit gets a streaky boundary off the inside edge of his bat. With a modest total to defend, Pakistan will want to snuff out the thret of the openers early on.

After 1 over, IND 2/0 (Rohit 1*, Shikhar 1*).
Amir with a tight first over. Rohit and Shikhar see him off watchfully as India begin their chase of 163.

8.50 pm: The umpires are making their way to the middle... can Pakistan bowlers pull off something special?

8.41 pm: Kedar Jadhav has come in for plenty of praise for his gritty bowling effort.

INNINGS BREAK: Target 163 for India

So all eyes will now be on the Mohammad Amir v Rohit Sharma battle. But don’t forget Usman Khan as well. Another left-arm pacer who could trouble India early.

INNINGS BREAK: It all started with a brilliant first spell for Bhuvi and Bumrah, and that’s how it ends as well, fittingly. In between Kedar Jadhav turned out to be the man with the golden arm, getting three wickets. Kuldeep was impressive too. Hardik Pandya’s injury the only negative from that first session for India.

Back soon for the run-chase. India need 163 to win.

162 ALL OUT - END OF PAKISTAN INNINGS

Pakistan are dismissed for 162 in 43.1 overs. The final wicket goes to Bumrah — an unplayable yorker, especially if you are the No 11 batsman. A brilliant bowling effort by India.

After 43 overs, PAK 162/9

Bhuvi tests Amir with a few bouncers towards the end of that over. It’s another wonderful over by the Indian pacer.

42.1: Another wicket! And another Pakistan batsman falls because of poor shot selection. Dean Jones is miffed on air over the indiscipline shown by Pakistan batsmem. This time Hasan Ali finds DK at mid-on, and Bhuvi has his 3rd wicket. Pakistan 160/9 and are in real danger of folding before the end of 50 overs.

After 42 overs, PAK 160/8 ( Amir 16*, Ali 1*) - WICKET!

Just reward for some excellent bowling from Bumrah all afternoon. He gets his first wicket in his 7th over and breaks the partnership. Faheem’s brief resistance comes to an end as he fails to read a slower ball (first ball of the over) and finds Dhawan in the deep. Smart bowling, and shows why he is so good at the death. Just two from the over.

After 41 overs, PAK 158/7 (Ashraf 21*, Amir 15*)

Good comeback by Bhuvi, a steady over to Faheem – just a single off the last ball, that too a leg bye. Maiden over against Bhuvi’s name.

End of 40 overs: Pakistan 157/7

This is a decent recovery by Amir and Faheem and 200 doesn’t look all that improbable now. Last 10 overs coming up and Bhuvi comes back into the attack...

After 38 overs, PAK 141/7 (Ashraf 14*, Amir 10*)
The spinners going through their overs quickly.

After 36 overs, PAK 138/7 (Ashraf 13*, Amir 8*)
DROPPED! Ashraf looks to smash Chahal down the ground. The bowler gets his hands to it, but he reacted late. He got the fingertips to it but could not hold on.

After 35 overs, PAK 134/7 (Ashraf 12*, Amir 6*)
7-1-17-3. It has been a brilliant spell by Kedar so far. He has reeped the rewards even as spin applied the pressure on the Pakistan middle-order.

After 34 overs, PAK 130/7 (Ashraf 10*, Amir 4*)
In the 23 innings he has bowled in ODIs, Kedar Jadhav has conceded more than 6 runs per over only 5 times. And conceded more than 7 RPO only twice.

After 33 overs, PAK 121/7 (Ashraf 5*)
WICKET! Kedar picks up his third! Stumps Shadab who chooses a poor expansive shot to get the runs going. Kedar has been one of India’s standout bowlers today. Might not have even bowled if not for Pandya’s injury.
Shadab st Dhoni b Kedar 8 (19b)

After 32 overs, PAK 119/6 (Shadab 7*, Ashraf 4*)
India lose a review. Ashraf is rapped high on the pads by Bumrah. The umpire turns the appeal down but he’s on the back foot and Rohit feels that’s grounds for a review. The replays, though, shows the ball would have gone over the stumps.

After 31 overs, PAK 117/6 (Shadab 6*, Ashraf 3*)
The spin in the middle overs has once again done the trick for India in an ODI. The trait seems to have been perfected now. Kuldeep, Kedarhave been splendid so far. The sharp fielding also helped matters.

After 30 overs, PAK 113/6 (Shadab 3*, Ashraf 2*)
From 85/2 to 110/6, it has been an uneviable batting collapse for Pakistan. They have struggled to pick the spin of Kuldeep. As the pitch gets slower the batting has become that much more difficult.

After 29 overs, PAK 110/6 (Shadab 2*, Ashraf 0)
WICKET! Asif looks to cut Jadhav but gets an edge which is neatly caught by Dhoni who is standing up. Pakistan crumbling!
Asif c Dhoni b Kedar 9 (10b 1x6)

After 28 overs, PAK 110/5 (Asif 9*, Shadab 2*)
Asif gets a six off Kuldeep to get some runs foing for Pakistan. They, however, need a partnership here.

After 27 overs, PAK 100/5 (Asif 1*)
WICKET! Shoaib Malik run-out! He’s lazy into dragging his bat into the crease as he looks to steal a quick single off Jadhav’s bowling. Asif sends him back, but Rayudu is too quick to the ball at point and hits the stumps directly at the non-striker’s end.
Malik run out (Rayudu) 43 (67b 1x4 1x6)

After 26 overs, PAK 97/4 (Malik 41*, Asif 0*)
The two quick wickets have tilted the advantage in India’s favour. Malik is still around but the run-rate isn’t encouraging. Pakistan need to get quick runs from here on but are running out of partners for Malik.

After 25 overs, PAK 96/4 (Malik 40*)
WICKET! After Bhuvi’s howler, Pandey pulls off a blinder in the deep to dismiss Sarfraz Ahmed! He pulls off a running catch, but lobs it in the air as the momentum takes him over the boundary rope. He comes back in to complete a fine catch.
Sarfraz c sub Pandey b Kedar 6 (12b)

After 24 overs, PAK 93/3 (Malik 39*, Sarfraz 4*)
MISSED CHANCE! Bhuvi loses the ball in the sky! Malik skies one off Kuldeep. The ball goes high and falls in the general direction of Bhuvi at deep mid-wicket. The fielder, though, misjudges the ball and it lands in no-man’s land.

After 23 overs, PAK 87/3 (Malik 36*, Sarfraz 2*)
Kedar Jadhav is introduced into the attack. Starts off with a tidy first over. Concedes just one run. Gavaskar describes his bowling as “mixed pakodas”. We live and learn from the little master!

After 22 overs, PAK 86/3 (Malik 35*, Sarfraz 1*)
WICKET! Kuldeep hands India the breakthrough! Beats Babar with the wrong one. Babar steps down the track and looks to hit through the leg side and is beaten in the turn as the ball crashes into top of off-stump. Pakistan three down!
Babar b Kuldeep 47 (62b 6x4)

After 21 overs, PAK 85/2 (Malik 36*, Babar 47*)
Babar is nearing his half-century even as Pakistan close in on the three-figure mark. The pair of Malik and Babar have negated the threat of spin well so far.

After 20 overs, PAK 80/2 (Malik 35*, Babar 43*)
Kuldeep gets into the groove with a tight over as Rohit employs spin from both ends. The Indian team needs a breathrough right about now.

After 19 overs, PAK 76/2 (Malik 33*, Babar 41*)
The pair of Malik and Babar have batted well so far, but Pakistan’s run-rate continues to hover around four. The need to get a move on.

After 18 overs, PAK 73/2 (Malik 31*, Babar 40*)
Pandya is down!
He looks be in terrible pain in his followthrough. Seems to be clutching at his back! Doesn’t look good. The stretcher has been out and he is being carried off the field. Looks to have had some damage to his back/hip region. Rayudu completes the one remaining delivery.

After 17 overs, PAK 67/2 (Malik 30*, Babar 35*)
Chahal starts off after the drinks break. Malik and Babar, though, are at complete ease at the moment. They have settled down well. The dropped catch has also helped matters.

After 16 overs, PAK 60/2 (Malik 26*, Babar 32*)
DROPPED! Dhoni spills it!
Pandya gets an edge off Babar who was looking to play down to third man. Dhoni bent down to collect the low catch, but the ball bounced out of his gloves. How costly will that prove?

After 15 overs, PAK 57/2 (Malik 25*, Babar 30*)
Chahal’s back at the other end now. Bowls a much tighter line and length concedes just two runs. The pair has batted smartly so far.

After 14 overs, PAK 55/2 (Malik 24*, Babar 29*)
Fifty up for Pakistan!
Malik and Babar have now also added 52* runs for the third wicket. It’s been a fine partnership after the early exut of the Pakistan openers.

After 13 overs, PAK 49/2 (Malik 23*, Babar 24*)
Kuldeep is welcomed into the attack with a six by Malik. Makes good use of his feet, comes down the track and hits the spinner over the mid-wicket fence with the turn. Kuldeep concedes 10 runs in his first over.

After 12 overs, PAK 39/2 (Malik 15*, Babar 22*)
Malik, Babar continue to chip away getting a boundary an over. Pandya tries to go short and largely succeeds. He drifts onto the leg side on the final delivery and concedes a four.

After 11 overs, PAK 32/2 (Malik 12*, Babar 18*)
Time for some spin. Chahal comes into the attack. Babar cuts him for a boundary off the last delivery to spoil an otherwise fine over.

After 10 overs, PAK 25/2 (Malik 10*, Babar 13*)
At the end of the powerplay, India hold the advantage. Pakistan have moved at a slow pace of 2.5 runs an over, but they now have a set pair in the middle - Malik and Babar - who have now added 22* runs for the third wicket. (Bhuvi: 5-0-13-2; Bumrah 4-2-10-0).

After 9 overs, PAK 23/2 (Malik 9*, Babar 12*)
Bhuvneshwar bowls his fifth straight over and concedes just one run. The Indian bowlers are finding their groove once again after an bit of a wobble soon after the openers departed. Time for a change may be. Both Bhuvi and Bumrah need a breather.

After 8 overs, PAK 22/2 (Malik 9*, Babar 11*)
Bumrah tests Shoaib a bit with a ball that jagged back in, but it misses the edge. Malik, Babar stitching together a handy stand for the third wicket. Pakistan will be hoping the pair comes good.

After 7 overs, PAK 20/2 (Malik 8*, Babar 10*)
Pressure seems to be easing up a bit on the batting side. The pacers seem to be tiring a bit under the sun. Babar now gets back-to-back boundaries off Bhuvi.

After 6 overs, PAK 12/2 (Malik 8*, Babar 2*)
Bumrah finally bowls a loose one.
Pitch full outside off. Shoiab Malik strokes it straight through the covers to break the shackles. Eight runs come off that over.

Put into field, under the beating sun and a flat deck to deal with, India were staring at a potential leather hunt. Rohit, though, seems quite pleased with his pacers' early exploits. Relieved!
Put into field, under the beating sun and a flat deck to deal with, India were staring at a potential leather hunt. Rohit, though, seems quite pleased with his pacers' early exploits. Relieved!

After 5 overs, PAK 4/2 (Malik 1*, Babar 1*)
WICKET! Zaman gone! Bhuvneshwar gets his second! The batsman looks to pull a short ball and skies it. Chahal completes a smart catch at midwicket! India send back both openers.
Zaman c Chahal b Bhuvneshwar 0 (9b)

After 4 overs, PAK 3/1 (Zaman 0*, Babar 1*).
Another maiden from Bumrah! India’s strike bowlers have frustrated Pakistan early on here. There’s not movement off the track but they are bowling splendidly.

After 3 overs, PAK 3/1 (Zaman 0*, Babar 1*).
WICKET! Bhuvneshwar strikes! Imam-ul-Haq walks down the track to swat the bowler through the offside. Mistimes it completely and only manages an edge which is caught easily by Dhoni behind the stumps.
Imam c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 2 (7b)

After 2 overs, PAK 2/0 (Imam 2*, Zaman 0*).
Bumrah bowls first to Zaman.
The latter was the wrecker-in-chief when the two teams met last - in the Champions Trophy final. A no ball then by the pacer had given the batsman a reprieve who went onto score a fine century that steered his side to a thumping 180-run victory. Bumrah gets away with a full toss in his first over today. Nerves? He walks away with a maiden in first over, though.

After 1 over, PAK 2/0 (Imam 2*, Zaman 0*).
Bhuvneshwar keeps it tight with his line and length. But there’s little help for the bowlers on this wicket. Imam gets Pakistan going with a double as the pacer drifts slight to the leg side.

The players are out for the national anthems. Goosebumps! We are all set for an India-Pakistan game!

The players are making their way onto the field. It’s quite a hot in Dubai as one can imagine. India’s star cricketers will have to sweat it out in the heat and hope the Pakistan batsmen don’t send them on a leather hunt on the flat track.

FYI: The last time an Indian captain won the toss was when Virat Kohli called it right in the first ODI vs England. Since then, India have lost the toss in: 2 ODIs vs England, 5 Tests vs England, 2 ODIs in the Asia Cup.

India XI: RG Sharma, S Dhawan, A Rayudu, D Karthik, MS Dhoni, K Jadhav, H Pandya, B Kumar, K Yadav, Y Chahal, J Bumrah.

Pakistan XI: Imam ul-Haq, F Zaman, B Azam, S Malik, S Ahmed, A Ali, S Khan, F Ashraf, M Amir, H Ali, U Shinwari.

Update: Bumrah and Pandya are back into the side in place of Shardul and Khaleel. Dhoni will play, phew! Still not place for KL Rahul in the playing XI.

4.30pm: Pakistan have won the toss and choose to bat first.

4.26pm: MS Dhoni finally makes an appearance on the field. But, he turns up in the nets with the ball in hand, not with the bat or gloves. Tries a bit of gentle spin. Is he playing or not? We will soon find out...

Pitch report: The wicket is the same as the one used in the game between India and Hong Kong. Gavaskar reckons there isn’t much wear and tear, the wicket hasn’t changed much. He says it’s not a wicket on which the bowlers will like to bowl on. It’s a batting pitch and has plenty of runs in it.

As we wait for the toss, here’s a look at five great India-Pakistan cricket matches to get you warmed up for today’s clash. Read here.

4.13pm: No Kohli. Now, No Dhoni? If reports are indeed true, India will have their task cut out with their two senior pros out of the big pressure game. Rohit will have to lead with confidence and hope the nerves don’t get to the players.

4.07 pm: Before we look forward to the India-Pakistan clash, a look-back at that near-epic win for Hong Kong against India. Imagine the repercussions if Anshuman Rath and Co had pulled off the win last night!

How Hong Kong exploited India’s weaknesses to almost pull off a massive upset. Read here.

4.05 pm: Hello all and welcome to the big one! The first India-Pakistan clash of 2018 in men’s cricket. More than a year after that epic win for Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final, the two arch-rivals meet again. Rohit Sharma and Co face a tough test from Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men, make no mistake.

India survived a scare against Hong Kong after Shikhar Dhawan’s hundred as they battled to a 26-run win over the minnows in the Asia Cup on Tuesday.

Chasing a big 286-run target, Hong Kong gave their illustrious opponents a run for their money with an opening stand of 174 runs before collapsing to 259-8 in 50 overs.

India were lifted to 285-7 by a punishing 127 by Dhawan – his 14th one-day international hundred – and an attractive 60 by the recalled Ambati Rayudu at Dubai Stadium.

And less than 15 hours after that match ended, India take on Pakistan. Doesn’t get bigger than this in cricket, as far as rivalries go.