Team India continue their Asia Cup journey
with another clash against Pakistan in Colombo in the Super 4’s. The Men in
Blue breezed past Nepal in their final Group A outing, with Rohit Sharma and
Shubman Gill lacing half-centuries, but a tougher test awaits against Babar
Azam’s men, who have won nine of their last ten completed ODIs in 2023.
All eyes will be on the battle between the
Indian top-order and Pakistani pace trio in this highly-anticipated encounter,
which could go a long way in deciding the game’s fate. Shaheen Afridi exposed
India’s recurring weakness against left-arm pace in their previous meeting in
the group stages, and the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Virat Kohli
will be desperate to produce an improved display ahead of the World Cup.
Another dilemma for the Men in Blue ahead
of this matchup is who to select as the wicket-keeper at number five, Ishan
Kishan or KL Rahul. The young left-hander impressed in his new-found
middle-order role against Pakistan last week, scoring his fourth consecutive
half-century in ODIs to rescue India from a tricky situation. However, the
incumbent keeper might have to make way for the senior statesman, KL Rahul, who
returns from a prolonged injury absence and holds a terrific ODI record at
number five since 2020, averaging 61 at a strike rate of 99.
Player to watch
out for: Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah returns to the India camp
after missing the Nepal fixture due to personal reasons, and the pacer will be desperate
to put some miles under his belt in the lead-up to the ODI World Cup. Bumrah
returned to action from injury in the T20I series against Ireland but has yet
to bowl ten overs in an ODI since July 2022.
The weather gods have not been kind
throughout the 2023 Asia Cup, with the group fixture between India and Pakistan
washed out after just one inning, and the showers could persist on Sunday with
a 90% chance of rain. However, a reserve day is in place for this encounter,
with the game set to continue on Monday from where it left off.
Jasprit Bumrah is likely to replace
Mohammed Shami in the line-up after missing the Nepal game, while KL Rahul
could replace Ishan Kishan in the side at number five after passing his fitness
test at the NCA.
Pakistan, meanwhile, are expected to go
with the same XI that beat Bangladesh on Wednesday, with Babar Azam’s men
looking to continue their fine run of form in the format in 2023.