Dubai: Favourites India have no grounds for complacency as they wait to see which Pakistan turn up in the Asia Cup Super Four game here Sunday, well aware of the unpredictable arch-rivals’ penchant for surprising not just opponents but themselves, too.
India are eyeing a place in the final after three wins in as many matches, while Pakistan will look to step up their game in the match, after a scare against Afghanistan.
India walloped Pakistan by eight wickets in the group game three days ago but if history is any indication, the Men in Blue will take their traditional rivals lightly at their own peril.
Even without their talismanic captain Virat Kohli, the Indian batting looked formidable and lived up to the billing by scoring freely on surfaces that are not really perfect for stroke-play.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, who scored back-to-back half centuries against Pakistan and Bangladesh, and Shikhar Dhawan, who is the leading run-scorer in the tournament so far, are in fine form. The middle-order duo of Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik haven’t got much time to bat but would definitely like to grab the opportunity.
Veteran MS Dhoni managed to spend some time in the middle Friday. Then there is Kedar Jadhav, who has often proved his worth with the bat besides his bowling.
After being called back to the ODI side as a replacement to Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja marked the occasion with a fine four-wicket haul against Bangladesh. Pakistan will be wary of the threat posed by the left-arm spinner, who is also a handy batsman lower down the order. He will be joined by wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the spin department.
India will look to the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah to make the initial breakthroughs and put Pakistan on the backfoot before the spinners are introduced.
On the other hand, Pakistan will mainly depend on their top three of Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam with the form they are in, in spite of their failure against India in the previous face-off. The experience of Shoaib Malik and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will take charge of the middle order.
Pakistan’s main cause of concern is the form of their strike bowler Mohammad Aamir, who has not been among the wickets in recent time. In that case, pacers Hasan Ali and Usman Khan will have to step up their game if their team are to do well.