Asia Cup: India, Pakistan kick off campaign in Dubai

The Asia Cup T20 match will be the first between the two sides since October last year.

pakistan india cricket
India and Pakistan have played nine T20s with the former winning seven [Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images]

Who: India vs Pakistan
Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, UAE
When: 6pm (14:00 GMT) Sunday, August 28

An India-Pakistan clash on a cricket field promises to be a fiery encounter regardless of the format, location or event.

The teams’ Asia Cup opener on Sunday will take the heat a notch up, given that it will take place at Dubai cricket stadium, where the temperature recently touched the 46C (114.8F) mark.

Given the political situation between the neighbours, the two sides have not played a bilateral series since 2012 and Sunday’s match is the first time they meet since October last year. The last time they faced off in a Test series was 2007.

Matches between the two ignite great fervour but have also defused military tensions between the two nations, which have fought four wars since independence from the British rule in 1947.

Recently pictures and videos of Pakistan captain Babar Azam and India superstar Virat Kohli meeting on the sidelines of a practice session in Dubai went viral.

What’s the head-to-head record?

India and Pakistan have played nine T20s with the former winning seven, including the World T20 final in 2007.

This is the sides’ first meeting since the T20 World Cup match in Dubai last year when Pakistan romped home by 10 wickets, the side’s first win over India in any World Cup match.

How many times will these sides meet in the Asia Cup?

Potentially three.

In addition to Sunday’s match, India and Pakistan could meet again in the Super Four and, if the fans and organisers are lucky enough, a blockbuster final awaits.

Will all eyes be on Kohli?

Well, kind of.

The former captain has played just four of India’s last 24 T20s. He has failed to reach the three-figure mark in international cricket since 2019, a run of more than 1,000 days.

He said that the run drought had affected his well-being and that he had been faking intensity to demonstrate that everything was fine.

“For the first time in 10 years, I have not touched a bat in a month,” Kohli said on Star Sports. “I came to the realisation that I was kind of trying to fake my intensity a bit, recently.

“You are convincing yourself, ‘No, I have the intensity.’ But your body is telling you to stop. Your mind’s telling you to take a break and step back.”

Kohli remains the highest scorer in India-Pakistan T20 matches with 311.

Is India’s Dubai tormentor Shaheen Afridi playing?

Unfortunately for Pakistan, Afridi has been ruled out of the tournament and was replaced by Mohammad Hasnain. Afridi took three wickets the last time these two sides met.

Who else is out?

Pakistan also lost Mohammad Wasim to injury.  Hasan Ali – who was initially dropped from the side named for the Asia Cup – was recalled as replacement.

A relief for Pakistan, meanwhile, would be the absence of Indian fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah who misses out through injury.

What are the captains saying?

Rohit Sharma (India): “The mood in the camp is buzzing. It will be a challenge to play against Pakistan without a doubt. We do talk about our losses, that’s how we improve as a team. That loss [in Dubai last year] did hurt us at that point, but I think it’s been a while since that game has been played. We learn from our mistakes. For now, it’s a fresh start for us and obviously, the team is coming out of playing a lot of T20 cricket. We will not think too much about what happened in October, that was a long time back.”

Babar Azam (Pakistan): “No heat at all [between the two sides]. It’s normal and we have to adjust to everything as a professional. Every match is important for me and it is my responsibility as captain that I give my 100 percent. Injuries are part of the team. We have a good bench strength and we have a young battery of fast bowlers who have performed well and I have belief in them.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies