Make no mistake, the second instalment of India vs Pakistan had long been scheduled for this Sunday in the thoughts of fans, organisers, and players. It wasn’t until Friday night that the match was officially announced. Its proximity to the teams’ most recent match, which took place a week ago, adds an extra layer of context and excitement because the teams aren’t as unfamiliar with one another as they usually are. The two teams will be facing each other in such close succession for the first time since the 2018 Asia Cup.
The fact that this game is the first for both teams in the Super 4 stage lets it to be taken off of its larger context. But before their men’s T20 World Cup match in Australia in less than two months, they have another chance to get to know one another. Not to mention, if there is a Part 3 of this story in the final on Sunday, any knowledge gained about the opposition’s strategies may be very helpful in a week.
Although there isn’t much separating both teams, especially in these conditions, as was shown in their close match a week ago, India does enter as the small favourite. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, their bowlers looked impressive, utilising the short ball to damaging effect in a way that Babar Azam’s team was unable to counter or copy. India had the benefit of having two-in-one player Hardik Pandya in the middle order, who they were able to rest against Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli appears to be regaining his confidence after scoring a crucial 35 against Pakistan early in the match and then going on to make an undefeated 50 against Hong Kong.
Any worries that Pakistan would falter in the group round were allayed by their overwhelming, record-breaking victory over Hong Kong. Khushdil Shah warmed up nicely with an unbeaten 15-ball 35, while Mohammad Rizwan worked his way back into form with an undefeated 78 off 57. Pakistan’s bowling, which is by far their strongest suit, was in excellent form, with Shadab Khan recording career-best figures of 4 for 8 and Mohammad Nawaz recording 3 for 5. Although Dubai might not give the spinners as much of a chance, Pakistan’s best chance of winning still lies in a balanced bowling performance.
India vs Pakistan Match Preview: Pitch
Even if it’s going to cool off a bit by the time the game begins, the oppressive heat will still be an issue because the temperature is predicted to reach 40°C in the afternoon.
Due to a fever, Avesh Khan is questionable to play in the game. In the meanwhile, Hardik should make a comeback and Axar Patel should replace Ravindra Jadeja, who’s out of the competition and the T20 World Cup due to a knee injury. There is still the Dinesh Karthik vs. Rishabh Pant debate.
Shahnawaz Dahani, another fast bowler for Pakistan, has a “suspected side strain” and will not play in the match on Sunday. He will be replaced by Hasan Ali or Mohammad Hasnain.