Pakistan will field the same team that defeated Nepal in Multan on Wednesday in their last Group A encounter at the Asia Cup on Saturday in Pallekele.
It is the second time Pakistan has chosen to name their starting lineup a day ahead of time, a practise that is expected to continue throughout the tournament.
However, with rain in the forecast and the possibility of a shortened game, the Asia Cup’s official hosts retain the option of making adjustments until the coin toss.
It is India’s first game in the competition, and a win for Pakistan ensures a position in the Super Fours as group champions.
While the match against India is being played at Pallekele, Pakistan captain Babar Azam stated that the fact that so many of his players had recently spent time in Sri Lanka gave them “some kind of home advantage.”
“We’ve been here for the last two months,” he stated during a Friday press conference. “We played the Tests [against Sri Lanka], the LPL, and the Afghanistan series here.”
We have a good understanding of the conditions, and the wicket appears to be sportive. Sri Lankan conditions are quite comparable to Pakistani and Indian situations, in my opinion. When you come in to bat, you take your time and bowl in the appropriate channels.”
With the games between Pakistan and India being as emotionally charged as they come, former India head coach Ravi Shastri said C2Dcricinfo that character, rather than numbers, will determine the winner.
A number of recent games between the teams have ended in lopsided victories for one club, with the other failing to perform anywhere near their best.
Last year’s T20 World Cup final-ball triumph by India was an aberration; prior to that, they had significant wins at the 2019 World Cup and thrice at the 2018 Asia Cup, however Pakistan was similarly dominant at the 2021 T20 World Cup and the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
However, when it came to 2023, Babar assured that his team would not let the occasion get the better of them.
“I don’t think we’re feeling the pressure of this game,” he explained. “We’re concentrating on what we have control over.” We want to keep the momentum going.
The lads are ecstatic. You know India-Pakistan is a high-intensity match, and supporters have been waiting for it for a long time.
We feel the same way. We’ll keep the same top order, but if we don’t get off to a strong start, I’m encouraged by the middle order moving up.
They’re pitching in. We’d been trailing in the middle order for a while, but they’re now reacting.”
However, there is an elephant in the room, with Pakistan having to travel further than any other team in a tournament that they are technically hosting.
They began by flying from Colombo to Multan for the game versus Nepal, and then returned to Sri Lanka immediately from the stadium.
After the game against India, they will very certainly go back to Pakistan for a Super Four encounter on September 6, only to return to Sri Lanka for the remainder of their games.
Due to India’s unwillingness to play in Pakistan, this became necessary, and as it turns out, they had a significantly reduced travel load, remaining in Sri Lanka throughout the tournament.
“We knew we’d have to travel a lot when the Asia Cup was announced.” “The physios and trainers took care of us,” Babar explained.
“We had been planning since the schedule was released. Travel is a component of cricket for which you must prepare; I do not anticipate it affecting our performance.”
Babar was even hopeful enough to disregard rain as a nuisance.
“I haven’t seen the weather affect cricket in the amount of time I’ve played here.” The radar may indicate rain, but it does not really fall.”