After a gruelling long tour of England, the Indian team will return home for a few days before they fly off to UAE for the 14th edition of Asia Cup starting on 15th September. India have put in Group A alongside arch-rivals Pakistan and one qualifier, who will bed decided from the ongoing Asia Cup qualifiers currently ongoing in Singapore.
Virat Kohli’s men will start their campaign on 18th September against the qualifier, before taking on Pakistan in a mouth-watering contest on 19th September at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The match on 19th will be India’s first encounter with Pakistan following their disastrous 180 runs defeat in the Champions Trophy Final last year in England. Ever since, the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, ties between India and Pakistan have been severely cut with only 12 matches taking place between the arch-rivals since that dreadful day in India’s financial capital.
In this article, we look at the reasons why Pakistan could defeat India for the 2nd time in a row on 19th September at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Familiarity with playing at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium
The 4th match of 2018 Asia Cup will be the first time India plays at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Previously some IPL matches have been held at this ground but the national team has never played here, which is in complete contrast to Pakistan, who have played 16 matches here, the most among all the countries playing cricket.
Pakistan last played at this ground back in October 2017 against Sri Lanka, when they secured a confident 83 runs win. With some of the Indian players being completely unaware of the conditions on offer, Pakistan team could go into the contest as the favourites, even with a winning percentage of less than 50 at this ground.
A depleted Indian squad
The Indian team will travel back from England on 12th after finishing the 5th Test match against England and will fly off for the Asia Cup with just a couple of days rest. The 3-month long tour has brought up questions of fatigue especially from the Indian captain Virat Kohli, which is why it is being rightly assumed that the squad for the Asia Cup might be a second string outfit without the presence some of the regular players in the playing 11.
Players like Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, Krunal Pandya and Mohammed Siraj could find themselves taking the pitch for the nation against rivals Pakistan on 19th, which would, in turn, give a lot of confidence to what we expect will be a full-strength Pakistan team looking to build on their famous win last year.
Shoaib Malik’s all-rounder performance against India
Among the current crop of Indian and Pakistani players, Shoaib Malik has been part of the maximum number of India vs Pakistan fixtures. The 36-year-old has been part of 39 encounters between India and Pakistan is also among the most experienced players in the world of cricket right now.
Among the Pakistani batsmen, he is 3rd in the all-time list of highest run-scorers against India. Malik has scored 1661 runs at a phenomenal average of 47.75 with the highest score of 143. But, what will trouble India even further will be his wicket-taking ability, which has got him 22 scalps in around 175 overs that he has bowled against India.
Malik is currently coming off a very successful spell in the CPL with the Guyana Amazon Warriors and there is no doubt that he will be pumped to take Pakistan’s arch-rival after a year.
The form of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq
Two players who are not only going to be crucial in INDvPAK tie but for the future of cricket in Pakistan are Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq. Zaman is slightly more experienced that Haq, having played 18 matches to the latter’s 9 but it’s the duo form in 2018 which will be India’s biggest worry going into the massive contest on 19th September.
Zaman who has played 9 ODI’s this year has scored 665 runs at an average of 133.00, which is currently the highest in world cricket for 2018. Earlier this year, the 28-year-old became the first Pakistani player to score a double hundred in ODI’s. In the last 5 ODI’s, Zaman has scores of 85, 210, 43, 117 and 60, which will give him the much-needed confidence going into the Asia Cup this month.
Imam-ul-Haq, who made his ODI debut only last year has scored 397 runs in 6 innings this year with an average of over 66. In 9 ODI’s, he has 4 hundred including 2 consecutive ones in his last 2 ODI’s this year.
Ghosts of 2017 Champions Trophy Final defeat
When India took on Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy Final at Oval, not many felt that the 1992 World Cup winners would have a chance against Virat Kohli’s men. However, what transpired over the next few hours shocked not only India but cricket fans across the globe.
After scoring 338 runs in their 50 overs, Pakistani bowlers especially Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali completely destroyed India’s superstar filled batting line-up. Even greats like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni struggled to cope up against a brilliant bowling performance by the Pakistani players.
There is no doubt that when India takes the field at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 19th September memories of that harrowing defeat at Oval will come flooding back into their heads and Pakistan on the other hand, will take confidence from that win, especially given how India has dominated them since the turn of the year.
WATCH: ICC #WT20 – India vs Pakistan Match Highlights