Asia Cup 2022, IND vs PAK: Super 4 tie to focus on top-order approach and Avesh Khan
It's another India-Pakistan clash in the 2022 Asia Cup, this time in the Super 4 round. While India won in the group stage, thanks to its prolific bowling, this tie would focus on its top-order batting and Avesh Khan's bowling.
The renowned top-order would be despairing for a course discipline. At the same time, the bowling attack could be reshuffled as India aims for a 'Sunday Encore' against arch-rival Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2022 Super 4s clash. Suppose the top-order's Powerplay perspective is a problem; in that case, the inexperience of pacer Avesh Khan at the death is indeed a worry. Consequently, the team management might need to update the bowling attack against a strong-sided Pakistan, coming into the tie after destroying Hong Kong by over 150 runs. With no all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja available in this match, Axar Patel seems the perfect replacement. Still, the team blend does take a hit in his absence.
In the previous match against Pakistan, head coach Rahul Dravid promoted Jadeja to the fourth batting position to keep the left-right combination intact in the top six, with wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant being dropped from the playing XI. It would be interesting to see if skipper Rohit Sharma and Dravid will retake the gamble on Sunday at the Dubai International Stadium. But, it won't be an overstatement to say that only Pant can be the ideal solution to having a pristine left-hand batter in the top six.
Last Sunday, Hardik Pandya's one-person show got India over the line in a clear last-over finish, and Rohit would hope that vigour to be maintained in this game too. However, the Indian side, despite being a minefield of aptitude, does have a soft underbelly and the top-order's mindful method in the Powerplay is one of them.
Neither Virat Kohli nor Rohit looked comfortable against the Pakistani attack, and their troubles seemed to have compounded as the pitch got slower. Suryakumar Yadav's insubstantial intellect saved India from what appeared to be a discomfiting batting display against minnows Hong Kong with an out-of-sync KL Rahul playing his quietest ever (36 off 39 deliveries) innings.
A relevant question arises if India will change its top order and add some firepower since it is clear that the assortment of Rahul, Rohit and Kohli isn't working well for the team. To be fair to Rahul, he earns a go at top-order one more time, despite Naseem Shah dismissing him in the first ball he faced in Sunday's game.
But, the team management needs to clarify to Rahul that he needs to change his viewpoint of looking to score runs rather than its quality and impact. The Pakistan team, on its part, would also like to achieve more in the opening ten overs. Mohammed Rizwan and Babar Azam have succeeded while chasing, but batting first hasn't strictly been the pair's substantial suit.
Also, the Dubai track's slowness creates some problems for the batters. It raises another question: Can Avesh and Arshdeep Singh provide both features in the playing XI? While Axar's restrictive bowling is a chance, Deepak Hooda as a batting all-rounder or Ravichandran Ashwin as a bowling all-rounder can be another.
With two left-handers in Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah in the top six, an off-spinner taking the ball away could prove to be a reasonable recommendation, along with seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and pacer Pandya, who are bowling all-out. Overall, another Super Sunday could be on the cards as the two resentful neighbours get ready to face off.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammed Hasnain and Hasan Ali.
Date and day: September 4, 2022 (Sunday)
Venue: Dubai International Stadium, Dubai
Time: 7.30 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 Hindi & Sports Select (Also available in HD)
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar
(With inputs from PTI)