Possibly the Most Heated Cricket Rivalry Ever is About to Start Between India and Pakistan

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After four years, face-to-face encounters will return to ODIs.

If someone claims that there are greater rivalries at the 2023 Asia Cup than India versus Pakistan, do not believe them.

Recent Afghanistan vs. Pakistan and Sri Lanka vs. Bangladesh games may have been spicier on the pitch and nastier off of it, but the cricketing and non-cricketing history and calibre of the players involved make India vs.

Pakistan arguably the greatest rivalry in world cricket. The fact that they rarely compete against one another nowadays makes every match highly anticipated.

You must go all the way back to the 2019 World Cup to learn what transpired the last time these two teams met in an ODI.

Six years have passed since the famed Fakhar Zaman century and the notorious Jasprit Bumrah no-ball in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, but the two teams have only played three ODIs against each other since then.

This is also one of the reasons why it is difficult to determine the favourite for Saturday’s match in Pallekele.

In the past, Pakistan’s bowlers and India’s batsmen have engaged in a fierce battle. While that will be the contest once again, with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf challenging Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Virat Kohli, there is much more to consider with the ODI World Cup less than a month away.

Shreesh Iyer and KL Rahul were expected to return during the Asia Cup. While Iyer has been declared healthy, Rahul has not yet reached full fitness, giving Ishan Kishan another chance.

In the West Indies, Kishan scored three consecutive fifty-plus scores, but they all came at the top of the order. Now that Rohit has returned, Kishan may have to give up the starting position.

Bumrah, another important performer for India, returned during the T20Is against Ireland. Prior to this series, Bumrah stated that he was willing to bowl ten overs. Bumrah’s claim will be put to the test on Saturday’s game, barring the prospect of rain.

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam is in red-hot form, having struck a tournament-opening 151 against Nepal, but Fakhar’s poor run could be cause for concern.

Since scoring three consecutive hundreds against New Zealand, including an unbeaten 180, Fakhar has scored only 139 runs in his subsequent seven innings.

However, both Pakistan and India are aware of his destructive potential. In addition, Pakistan possesses a lengthy batting lineup, which India lacks.

Shreyas Iyer and Shaheen Shah Afridi are Featured

In recent months, numerous individuals, including Rohit, have asserted that India has a No. 4 problem. With Shreyas Iyer’s return, however, this is no longer the case. In fact, India has one of the greatest No. 4 cricket players in the world in Iyer.

Iyer has amassed 805 runs at No. 4 since the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup, with an average of 47.35 and a strike rate of 94.5%. No No. 4 from the ten nations participating in the 2023 ODI World Cup has a higher batting average or more hundreds than Iyer’s two.

He also worked on his vulnerability against the short ball during the previous year. India will simply pray he returns without incident.

Shaheen Shah Afridi running in with a brand-new white ball is one of the most spectacular spectacles in contemporary cricket, but only if you are not confronting him. Even though he was not at his best against Nepal, he took two wickets in his first over.

He even left the pitch for a moment after his five-over spell, but the Pakistan team management was eager to explain that it was due to the humidity in Multan. Shaheen has faced India in only three international matches to date; twice he was wicketless, but at the 2021 T20 World Cup he bowled a match-winning spell of 3 for 31. His performance on Saturday could also determine the outcome of this match.

What will the Tempo Assault of India Look Like?

India must make some difficult decisions. If they select Shardul Thakur to prolong their batting order, only two places would be available for frontline seamers (assuming Kuldeep Yadav is a lock). In this scenario, Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj are more likely to be selected than Mohammed Shami and Pravesh Krishna.

Rohit Sharma (captain), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya. Seven Ravindra Jadeja 11 Jasprit Bumrah, 8 Shardul Thakur/Mohammed Shami, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Siraj

Pakistan’s Starting XI Remained Unchanged on Friday Evening

Pakistan: No. 1 Fakhar Zaman, No. 2 Imam-ul-Haq, No. 3 Babar Azam (captain), No. 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), and No. 5 Agha Salman. Iftikhar Ahmed, sixth Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf are ranked seventh through eleventh, respectively.

Pitch and Weather: Rain Threatens to Delay the Start

The match will be contested on a new surface, but if it behaves anything like the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh pitch, with assistance for both seamers and spinners, the batters are in for a tough time. However, rain is predicted from early morning until mid-afternoon, which could cause a delay.

Statistics and Trivia: Kohli and Babar Are On the Verge of Achieving Milestones

Kohli needs 102 runs to become the fifth batsman with 13,000 ODI runs. If he reaches the milestone on Saturday in his 266th innings, he will surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 321 innings as the quickest player to reach the mark.

Babar has 19 hundreds in ODIs. With one more, he will tie Saeed Anwar for the most ODI centuries scored by Pakistan.

Imam-ul-Haq is in a position to become the second-fastest player to reach 3000 ODI runs. Currently, he has scored 2889 runs in 63 innings.

In 67 innings, Shai Hope and Fakhar Zaman, who are presently tied for second-fastest, reached their destination.

Ravindra Jadeja needs six wickets to become the seventh Indian with 200 ODI wickets and the first since Kapil Dev (3,783 runs and 255 wickets) to complete the double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.

Expressions Quoted

They have performed exceptionally well over the past few years, whether at the T20 World Cup or in the 50-over format. No team becomes number one overnight. Pakistan has worked very diligently to get there, and they appear to be a cohesive unit. It will be a great test to compete against them.”

Rohit Sharma Regarding Pakistan

“Let’s leave this [Babar vs. Kohli] debate to the public. Everyone has their own opinion, and I will not comment on it. He is my elder, and I was taught to respect elders regardless of their country of origin. And I’ve learned a great deal from him. In 2019, during the World Cup, I spoke with him, and it was of great assistance to me.”

Babar Azam discusses his relationship with Virat Kohli.


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