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Asia Cup: Indo-Pak Cricket Enabler in Challenging Times

     In recent editions, the Asia Cup has taken on the role of fostering Indo-Pak cricket. It is the only tournament outside of ICC events where the two teams meet, and organizers have gone to great lengths to ensure that this highly anticipated match does not get washed out. In a surprising move, a reserve day has been introduced to save the fixture, a luxury granted only to the final. The Asia Cup truly stands out.

     Everyone eagerly awaits an India vs. Pakistan match, especially now, with the upcoming World Cup on home soil where both teams have a genuine chance at glory. This is the perfect opportunity for them to assess each other, establish dominance locally, and make the first move.

     Pakistan came close to achieving that in Pallekele, showcasing Shaheen Shah's bowling prowess against India. Their top-order will be eager to respond, and the Asia Cup provides the ideal setting in Colombo before the grand stage in Ahmedabad.

     Among the six participating teams, Pakistan has been the standout side. Their batsmen have performed well in setting and chasing targets. However, they would hope for more runs from Fakhar Zaman, who has had a quiet last month. The fast bowlers, especially Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah, have impressed, evoking memories of the past. But Pakistan needs to improve their spin bowling, as seen in their vulnerability against Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya recently. Late lower-order partnerships can undo the damage inflicted by the pace attack.

     India's campaign has been far from perfect. While their top-order struggled against Pakistan, their bowling and fielding fell below par against Nepal. Dropping three catches within the first five overs and rusty bowling were the main concerns. Jasprit Bumrah's return will boost the team, but defeating an in-form Pakistan requires a collective effort. Pakistan is the team to beat in the tournament, and India will have a maximum of two days to try and accomplish that feat. The Asia Cup is already a winner.

     The match is scheduled for Sunday, 10 September 2023 at 3:00 PM local/IST at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo. Thunderstorms are forecasted throughout the day, raising the possibility of the reserve day being utilized. The pitch is expected to be slow and spin-friendly, providing an advantage to the bowlers after being covered due to rain.


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