It was India who took the bragging rights in the first meeting in the group stage with a comprehensive eight-wicket win at the same venue but all that will count for nothing on Sunday as the two teams seek to take a big step towards securing their place in the final of the continental competition.
With both teams coming into the game on the back of contrasting wins in their Super Four campaign opener, we take a look at the talking points ahead of the clash.
WILL MOHAMMAD AMIR PLAY?
The Pakistan pace spearhead has yet to truly hit the heights he achieved previously ever since his return to international cricket following a ban for spot-fixing. Ever since his heroics in the ICC Champions Trophy final against India last year, the left-arm pacer has managed to only secure three wickets in the eight ODIs. What’s more, Amir has now gone wicketless in his last three matches in the format including the eight-wicket defeat to India.
The pacer was rested in Pakistan’s last-gasp win over Afghanistan on Friday with his replacement Shaheen Shah Afridi impressing with figures of 2-38. Amir’s experience on the big stage could still see him get the nod over Afridi on Sunday but the teenager deserves to retain the spot on current form.
In the case Amir does play, he will want a repeat of his Champions Trophy final showing against the same rivals where he rocked India’s top-order by sending Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli packing early into the innings.
MOMENTUM WITH INDIA
While Pakistan will be buoyed by their thrilling three-wicket win over the Afghans, it will be India who come into the match as favourites given their current form. After surviving an almighty scare against minnows Hong Kong in their campaign opener, India have sprung back to life with crushing wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Rohit Sharma and his men have been peaking just at the right time and are looking like the team to beat as the tournament heads towards it business end. Despite missing the services of talisman Virat Kohli, India have looked sharp in their recent matches with the team firing as a unit. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit have been in great touch at the top with the bat while the bowlers have more than held their own. The return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar has bolstered the pace attack with Jasprit Bumrah looking in fine rhythm as well. The spin contingent of Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chhal and Kedar Jadhav has been extremely effective in throttling the opposition in the middle-overs and it has been further strengthened by the return of Ravindra Jadeja who was outstanding in India’s win over Bangladesh.
BRAGGING RIGHTS ON OFFER AHEAD OF POTENTIAL FINAL
While a win for either side would go a long way in securing their passage to the final of the event, it could also serve as a huge psychological boost ahead of a potential final between the two very sides.
With bilateral cricket between the two old foes at a standstill for some time, multi-team events like the Asia Cup remain the only stage for their clashes. The tournament has been scheduled in a manner that allows the two teams to meet in potentially three matches. They remain the favourites to enter the final and should they do so, Sunday’s match could have a big mental bearing.
It will be Pakistan who will be more eager to even the scores after their crushing loss in the group stages but India will be equally desperate to ensure that the men in green are deprived of any momentum ahead of a potential blockbuster final.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c, wk), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan.
VENUE: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
TIME: 15:30 GST
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