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Asia Cup: India  to face Pakistan at International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele tomorrow

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India and Pakistan don’t get to play each other too often but when they do, calling it a high-octane match is barely scratching the surface. Emotions run wild, stadium tickets are sold out, vendors make a fortune, television screens are still broken, and the outcome of the contest often overshadows context. And in this Asia Cup there could be three such contests, starting with the one on Saturday (September 2) in Pallekele.

But round one of the clash of the heavyweights could well be a stalemate, going by the weather forecast which suggests rain and thunderstorms throughout the day. The last time these two sides faced off in an ODI was in the 2019 World Cup.

They have played four T20I matches since then, in the 20-over version of the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup. The weekend game could also be another shortened affair, should the weather even allow that.

India are entering the competition armed with a full-strength team for the first time in several months. They completed a camp in Alur in the outskirts of Bengaluru, and head coach Rahul Dravid expressed confidence in the line-up, with the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah returning to the setup.

But India will be hoping that their lack of game time doesn’t turn out to be a factor as they’ll hope to hit the straps straightaway. With the lack of adequate ODIs in the lead-up to the World Cup, the game-time for all the members would be as much in focus as the game itself.

Pakistan, began their Asia Cup campaign on a confident note, riding on tons from Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed, and a clinical bowling performance, to register a big win. Armed with fit and firing personnel, they’ve already made sure that their performances are taken note of in these conditions.

There were some concerns, though. Fakhar Zaman had another failure at the top of the order and the Pakistan batting department was kept in check by Nepal for the majority of the game before Babar and Iftikhar powered them to a sizable total. Shaheen Afridi wasn’t in the best of rhythms despite picking up a couple of wickets, and he also needed some attention close to the boundary ropes, which Pakistan will be hoping doesn’t turn out into something serious.

Sqauds:

Pakistan Squad: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Usama Mir

India Squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan(w), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma

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