MS Dhoni India Bangladesh Asia Cup 2016
MS Dhoni continues to struggle with a back injuryIANS

MS Dhoni and his back spasms continue to be a cause for worry as India prepare to face Pakistan in a 2016 Asia Cup T20 match in Mirpur on Saturday.

Dhoni was not present for the prematch practice session again, suggesting the India skipper is still struggling with the back problem that nearly kept him out of the opener against Bangladesh and forced the BCCI to fly in Parthiv Patel as cover.

The 34-year-old only played in the Asia Cup opener, a match which India won by 45 runs, after convincing the team management he can play, but it looks like that might have come at a cost.

While the injury is not expected to be severe enough, yet, to keep Dhoni out of this match against Pakistan, there will be a worry over the long-term problem it can cause. India really cannot afford to go without Dhoni for the World T20, because he lends so much balance to the lower order, and surely 100% fitness for the Twenty20 World Cup should be the priority.

But then, they don't make them much bigger than an India vs Pakistan match, so there is little chance of Dhoni missing this one on Saturday. However, it might be a good idea to rest Dhoni for the final two league matches of the Asia Cup – against Sri Lanka and the UAE.

Patel is not a natural replacement, because the left-hander is not adept at playing down the order, but India have enough firepower to be able to manage in those two matches.

Another player who missed training on Friday was Ashish Nehra, who, considering he used to be one of the most injury-prone players to ever play for India, has a training regime just geared up for him. Nehra is also vital to India's fortunes, having made an impressive return to international cricket.

Apart from the two fitness worries, India have no other playing XI issues to deal with, and, provided both Dhoni and Nehra recover, should go with the same team that beat Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Pakistan have a playing XI question or two to ponder, chief of them being which fast bowlers to play against India. Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz should definitely be in, and with Mohammad Amir coming back into the side, he might get the nod ahead of Anwar Ali and Mohammad Sami, even if the latter two are the only right-arm options amongst the fast bowling quintet.

However, with the pitch at the Shere Bangla National Stadium assisting the fast bowlers, Pakistan might go the Bangladesh way and play with four seamers, with Shahid Afridi as the only mainline spin option. That means Mohammad Nawaz, so impressive in the PSL, warming the bench for this big game, with Ali probably getting the nod.

Expected playing XI: India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (C), Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah.

Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan.

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