Team India will look to get things right this time around when they meet arch-rivals Pakistan in the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup 2023 on Sunday. The group stage was a wash out as the second innings could not be completed in Pallekele. However, in the Indian innings, Shaheen Shah Afridi (4/35) and the Pakistan pacers unleashed havoc on the Men In Blue. (More Cricket News)
Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill went back to the pavilion cheaply as Pakistan reigned supreme. However, Hardik Pandya (87) and Ishan Kishan (82) bailed the side out of trouble, steering the total to 266, thanks to the 138-run partnership.
Speaking to the press ahead of the game, skipper Babar Azam stated that given Pakistan's recent involvement in Sri Lanka, the Men In Green do hold an advantage over their rivals.
“Given the continuous cricket we are playing both in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, you can say that we hold an edge (over India)," said Babar in the pre-match press conference.
"We have been playing here in Sri Lanka for the past two months or so. We have played Tests, we played a series against Afghanistan, and then the LPL... So it can be said that we have an advantage.” Babar's side had to shuttle between Sri Lanka and Pakistan because of the tournament schedule, but the right-handed batter did not read too much into it.
“We always knew the schedule and how much we have to travel. So, it's become important how we look after our players. We have planned everything well,” he said.
Shaheen Shah Afridi has so far scalped 7 wickets in the tournament but the lanky pacer isn't done yet. During the group stage encounter, Shaheen troubled the Indian batters especially Shubman Gill, who could not bear the pace and swing of the tall left-arm bowler. However, fiery pacer stated that it wasn't his 'best' spell and there's 'more to come'.
“Every match against India is special and people watch it a lot. I used to wait for this match as a fan before I played under-16 cricket. I can’t say this (4/35) has been my best spell so far. This is just the start and there will be many more, so the best is yet to come,” Shaheen was quoted speaking to AFP.
“If you play all the three formats at such a young age for Pakistan and handle the new ball, people expect you to perform like that. We know our roles with the new and old ball. Haris is quicker than us and impacts with his pace. Naseem and I try to get early breakthroughs. Communication is good between us and that’s our success,” he added.
Pakistan (Playing XI) against India: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.