India-Pakistan Round 2 promises closer tussle in Asia Cup 2018

If you go by recent history and still write Pakistan off based on their first meeting against India in the Asia Cup, there's a chance you're losing all your money in a bet.

In the space of 14 days in 2017, Pakistan's entire world spun around. They went from having a mid-tournament inquest courtesy India, to beating their beloved neighbours in the final of the Champions Trophy. It's a win that has stayed etched in the memories of the Pakistan players, and is one they'd turn to for inspiration ahead of Sunday's Super Four game.

The India-Pakistan appetite whetter on Wednesday turned out to be a damp squib, but one side of the fandom will gladly take another such outcome. The likelihood of that happening, however, has diminished since Pakistan paid heed to Mickey Arthur's passionate calls for improvement.

India at the Asia Cup meanwhile, have had fewer troubles. That their toughest challenge came against Hong Kong speaks volumes of the level of play they achieved since that scratchy performance. Even life after the absence of their only fast bowling-allrounder hasn't been put to test...yet. But that could soon change.

At this stage, India are unbeaten, and Pakistan have just pulled off a character-defining victory over Afghanistan. Sunday's game brings together two teams seeped in rich rivalry history, and gives each the incentive of taking a big step towards the final if they beat the other. If that doesn't bring about a much closer tussle, it's hard to say what will.

When: September 23, 2018 at 5:00 PM IST (3:30 PM Local Time)

Where: Dubai International Cricket stadium

What to expect: A game that keeps fans staying back till the very end. Both the pitches used in the games in Dubai have been slow so far. The 300-run mark hasn't been breached in the tournament yet but even scores in the range of 250-280 have been very competitive. The weather has been consistently taxing.

India: Ravindra Jadeja fit into the spot left vacant by Hardik Pandya, like a dream. There should be no team changes from the emphatic win over Bangladesh.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

Pakistan: Haris Sohail or Faheem Ashraf? Shadab Khan or Mohammad Nawaz? Shaheen Afridi or Mohammad Amir? - Pakistan have a few calls to take.

First of those three is probably the toughest because neither of the two have done anything spectacular in this tournament to hold down their spot.

Between the two leggies, a lot depends on Shadab's fitness. He had a groin injury during the first India fixture, and despite Arthur saying it shouldn't keep him out, Shadab didn't pass the medical test for the Afghanistan game. Now, even if he is fit there should be a fair dilemma, following Nawaz's 3 for 57 in the previous game.

Young Afridi has as many ODI wickets from one game that Amir has in his last eight outings. India's batting unit poses a different threat to Afghanistan's, but the 18-year-old should pip the senior pro.

Probable XI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam Ul Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Faheem Ashraf/Haris Sohail, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan/Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi/Mohammad Amir

Did you know?

- Bhuvneshwar Kumar is four away from 100 ODI wickets, Yuzvendra Chahal needs two for 50.

- Babar Azam - who averages 54.33 - will play his 50th ODI on Sunday.

What they said:

"I was only looking at when I got a chance... because last 2-3 series have been away and I've not played in that. So, I was motivating myself that whenever I get a chance... what's in my hands is to perform. I was thinking more about what was in my hands, about what I can do, about how I can improve my game and how I can upgrade my game in away conditions. Those are the things I would think" - Ravindra Jadeja.

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