It's time for India vs Pakistan round 2 at Asia Cup 2018 as the two arch-rivals meet in the Super Four stage of the continental tournament in Dubai on Sunday, September 22.
India have been clinical so far in the ongoing tournament and they continued the dominant ways against Bangladesh by winning their first Super Four match by seven wickets. Pakistan, on the other hand, survived a huge scare against in-form Afghanistan in a thrilling last-over finish.
Rohit Sharma's men headed into Friday's match against Bangladesh with quite a few injury concerns as the likes of Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, and Shardul Thakur were ruled out of the tournament after their eight-wicket win over Pakistan in the group stages.
Nonetheless, they were able to make a strong start to the Super Four stage, thanks to a match-winning four-wicket haul from comeback man Ravindra Jadeja, who had replaced Axar in the squad.
Jadeja bowled with control and precision as he outshone wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as Bangladesh were bowled out for 173. A Rohit special — unbeaten 83 helped India gun down the target with ease.
Jadeja's inclusion has brought in variety to the bowling line-up and depth to the batting unit. The left-arm spinner got it all right on Friday that India didn't have the need to use part-timer Kedar Jadhav, who shone for India with a three-wicket haul in the Group A tie against Pakistan.
Despite the likes of KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and young seamer Khaleel Ahmed warming the benches, India are unlikely to change their playing XI for Sunday's big-ticket clash.
On the other hand, Mohammad Amir being out of form is a cause of concern for Pakistan. The left-arm seamer, who had demolished the Indian top order in last year's Champions Trophy final, was rested for yesterday's match against Afghanistan.
Pakistan will be hoping the short break helps their premier fast bowler, who is likely to replace young Shaheen Afridi in the playing XI on Sunday. Off-spinner Shadab Khan, who was rested yesterday, will also be making his way back into the side.
With Mohammed Nawaz impressing with the ball against Bangladesh, Pakistan will be tempted to play the all-rounder ahead of Faheem Ashraf against their arch-rivals.
Middle-order batsman Asif Ali's place is also under scrutiny as the 27-year-old has not managed to go past single-digit scores so far in the tournament.
There is considerably more pressure on Pakistan to get their team combination right for Sunday's encounter as they wouldn't want to lose out on bragging rights and probably a berth in the final of the tournament.
Predicted playing XIs
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan, Mohammed Amir.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch is expected to be on the slower side as it has been throughout the tournament at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Both captains will be looking to win the toss and put the opposition in as teams batting second have won seven out of the last 10 matches at the venue.
Notably, India have already comfortably gunned down two totals, including the one against Pakistan earlier in the ongoing tournament.
The temperature is going to be above 35 degree Celsius throughout the evening but a day's rest for both the teams should help them battle the heat on Sunday.