India, Pakistan in another one-off contest

27 February,2016

RTNN Sports Desk: Fans are eagerly waiting for the high-voltage match between archrivals India and Pakistan in the forth match of the Asia Cup 2016 at Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Saturday.

The 20-over match is scheduled to begin around 7:30pm Bangladesh time.

As has happened in the past, political tension between the two countries had sidelined a bilateral series that was supposed to take place in December 2015. So here in Bangladesh they meet and add to a series of one-off contests dating back to the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.

The last time, India and Pakistan played a bilateral series was in 2012-13 - two T20Is and three ODIs.

There is no shortage of emotion and expectation from fans around the world, even without the lure of an Asia Cup trophy. It's a little harder to gauge the pulse of the players themselves though.

Virat Kohli was democratic. "There is a lot of hype, which is exciting for the people. But on the field it's the same as playing any other team."

And Shoaib Malik made the average person feel closer to the team. "People from both countries enjoy this encounter and they want their team to win. The cricketers are the same, they give their best and enjoy the contest a lot."

On some level, it seems Saturday may just be a bit of sparring bout before the main event at the World T20.

MS Dhoni and Ashish Nehra were given time off from training in Fatullah on Friday. It seems the back spasms that troubled the captain haven't completely died down.

Dhoni had said it had been "difficult" convincing the team management to let him play the Asia Cup opener. Perhaps the weight of an India-Pakistan game might just persuade him to stand his ground again.

India squad
MS Dhoni*†, R Ashwin, JJ Bumrah, S Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, RA Jadeja, V Kohli, B Kumar, P Negi, A Nehra, HH Pandya, PA Patel†, AM Rahane, SK Raina, RG Sharma, Yuvraj Singh


Pakistan are rife with fast bowlers. Mohammad Sami is back again, Mohammad Amir looks like he's back for good, Mohammad Irfan doesn't spare his own batsmen of the discomfort a seven-foot quick can cause, Wahab Riaz loves a fight and Anwar Ali can be excellent with the new ball.

All of them trained under Waqar Younis and Azhar Mahmood's watchful eyes. Even the captain Shahid Afridi agreed the game would be a contest between his bowlers and India's batsmen.

Pakistan squad
Shahid Afridi*, Anwar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz (3), Mohammad Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed†, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz

"It plays a huge part. If any individual knows he has the backing of his captain and the management, that's when he opens up and tries to express himself and gets that performance out,” said India batsman Rohit Sharma.

"I think for me the Asia Cup and the World Cup is more important than my retirement and I am focusing on that at the moment," Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

Umpires - RSA Palliyaguruge and Sharfuddoula
TV umpire - Enamul Haque
Match referee - JJ Crowe
Reserve umpire - Anisur Rahman

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