The cricket fraternity braces itself for the mother of all battles on September 2, when India and Pakistan lock horns in match number 3 of the Asia Cup 2023. India and Pakistan are in Group A, and the latter warmed up for this clash with a massive win over Nepal in the opener. India will have their task cut out against an in-form Babar Azam-led Pakistan side that looks hungry for the kill. With the ICC World Cup in October, both sides will see this clash as something where they can address several areas. India and Pakistan have faced each other 13 times (ODIs) in the Asia Cup, with India leading 7-5 (NR:1). A win for Pakistan on Saturday will ensure their progression and top place in Group A. Both teams have powerful assets in their teams and can dictate the show in key moments of the game. Ahead of a crunch battle between the two sides in Sri Lanka, we present the key player battles.
Shaheen Afridi vs Rohit Sharma
Shaheen Afridi has a knack for picking wickets upfront and making the ball talk both ways. He will be eyeing the scalp of Rohit Sharma, who can have bad days against left-arm pacers with the ball swinging in. As per ESPNcricinfo, across 118 innings, Rohit has been dismissed 30 times by left-arm pacers in ODI cricket. He has managed to score 1450 runs at 48.33. Meanwhile, Rohit has faced Shaheen once, scoring 18 runs from 19 balls without being dismissed.
Haris Rauf vs Shreyas Iyer
Haris Rauf has been highly impressive in ODIs of late. With 46 wickets from 25 matches at 25.76, Rauf could be a handful with his variations. He will want to ruffle the feathers of Shreyas Iyer, who is set to make a comeback after being sidelined with an injury for an extended period. Iyer is set to bat at number four for India, as Rahul Dravid confirmed. In 42 matches, Iyer has scored 1632 runs at 46.60. He is yet to face Haris Rauf. Iyer can be a bit rusty.
Shadab Khan vs Virat Kohli
Shadab Khan is enjoying himself of late, and after a productive series against the Afghans, he stood tall versus Nepal, claiming four scalps, his fifth in the format for Pakistan. Shadab is an able spinner with quality leg-breaks on offer. He has 81 scalps from 60 matches at 30.92. He will want to open his account against someone like Virat Kohli, who has scored 28 runs across two innings, having faced 30 balls against him. Shadab is yet to dismiss the Indian stalwart. Kohli has scored 1299 runs against leg-spinners, averaging a whopping 72.16. He has been dismissed on 18 occasions across 78 innings.
Jasprit Bumrah vs Imam-ul-Haq
Jasprit Bumrah made a cracking return to international cricket after an injury hiatus. He looked in great rhythm in the 20-over format against Ireland recently, captaining a second-string side to a 2-0 win. Bumrah will be pumped up to make the white ball talk against Pakistan’s left-handed openers, especially an in-form Imam-ul-Haq, who is set to complete 1500 runs in Asia in ODIs. Across 69 innings, Bumrah holds an average of 25.65 versus left-handed batters in ODIs. He has also grabbed 43 wickets. Meanwhile, across two innings versus Imam, Bumrah has given away nine runs from 14 balls without dismissing the former.
Mohammed Shami vs Fakhar Zaman
Mohammed Shami has the desired rest and will be fresh in the Asia Cup. An experienced campaigner, Shami has claimed 162 ODI scalps at 25.98. He will want to unsettle Fakhar Zaman at the top with sheer accuracy and pace. Across 86 innings, Shami has claimed left-handed batters on 49 occasions at 31.24. He has also conceded 198 fours. Meanwhile, Fakhar has scored 207 runs versus India across four ODI innings at 51.75. He has one ton and a fifty. Fakhar can be quite destructive on his day.
Kuldeep Yadav vs Babar Azam
Babar Azam comes to this match on the back of a sensational 151 versus Nepal. He is the biggest threat to India. Babar is an excellent player of spin and promises quality. Babar, who has yet to score an ODI fifty or a ton versus India, will be hungry to get to the distance this time. Babar must be cautious against someone like Kuldeep Yadav, who can force players into making mistakes and be spot-on with his googly. Babar has been dismissed on five occasions versus left-arm spinners in ODIs. However, he has scored 579 runs at 115.80. However, Babar hasn’t cracked the Kuldeep code, who has dismissed him twice across three innings. Babar averages nine versus Kuldeep, scoring 18 runs from 34 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja vs Iftikhar Ahmed
Ravindra Jadeja is closing in on 200 ODI scalps, and the veteran will aim to make his presence felt against Pakistan in this gigantic clash. Jadeja, who can be quick with his overs in the middle phase, has to keep someone like Iftikhar Ahmed quiet. Ifthikar excelled in the match versus Nepal, scoring a tremendous 109*. Iftikhar averages 66-plus against spinners in ODI cricket, scoring 132 runs across 10 innings from 156 balls. He has been dismissed twice. Meanwhile, Jadeja has 10 scalps from nine matches versus Pakistan in ODIs at 41.00. He has an economy rate of 4.93.