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5 Key Players For India vs Pakistan Clash In Asia Cup 2022

After just 9 months of Pakistan’s clinical win over India in T20 World Cup, the arch-rivals will lock horns again for Asia Cup 2022 on 28 August

Posted Date: Aug 12, 2022

Posted By: Joy

5 Key Players For India vs Pakistan Clash In Asia Cup 2022
5 Key Players For India vs Pakistan Clash In Asia Cup 2022

In a little over two weeks’ time, India and Pakistan meet for their opening match of the Asia Cup 2022, in what will be a titanic clash between these two cricket playing nations. 

India will be seeking revenge for the humiliation Pakistan served up nine months ago at the 2021 T20 World Cup. That match, India’s opening game of the T20 World Cup, saw Pakistan win by ten wickets, easily chasing down a score of 151 with 13 balls to spare.

However, India have improved rapidly since crashing out of last year’s World Cup. Stringing together 22 wins with only five losses, the side have been propelled to the peak of the ICC Men’s T20I Rankings, and head into the Asia Cup full of confidence.

Pakistan, on the other hand, will be looking to rub salt into the wound of their long-time rivals. It’s not often these two sides get to play each other, and with the prospect of meeting several times over the coming weeks courtesy of the Asia Cup’s format, Pakistan will be eager to capitalize on the opportunity at hand.

With so much on the line for both sides, we look at which players will be key for India and Pakistan in their opening match of the Asia Cup 2022, on August 28.

Babar Azam: The World’s Best Batter Looks to Carry On

Kohli, Kane, Root, Smith… And Babar Azam?

Only time will tell if Babar Azam goes down in history in the same sentence as cricket’s Big Four, but one thing is for sure: Right now, Babar Azam is the world’s best T20 batter.

And it’s not only the ICC Men’s T20I Batter Ranks that say this.

All we need to do is cast our eye over the last few games Babar Azam has been involved in, to know the impact he has on a side, regardless of the format. In the recent Test series against Sri Lanka, Azam scored two half-centuries and a century, leading his side to an away draw. In the ODI series against the West Indies in June, he scored a run-a-ball century. And in the PSL earlier this year, he scored 343 runs at a strike rate of 119.

The last time India and Pakistan met, Azam paired with Mohammed Rizwan to win the match by ten wickets, himself scoring 68 off 52.

There’s no doubt that if Pakistan are to beat India in the opening game of the Asia Cup 2022, Babar Azam has to lead from the front and put up a big score as captain. He’s consistent, he’s the best batter in the world, and he’s Pakistan’s best chance of winning this game.

Rohit Sharma: Veteran Needs to Lead from the Front

It’s no coincidence that the second key player in this match up between India and Pakistan is Babar Azam’s counter part, Rohit Sharma.

Named as captain of the side, and guaranteed to open the batting for India, Rohit Sharma needs to come out firing if his team are going to have any chance of matching Pakistan’s openers.

With 3487 runs at a strike rate of 140 across 124 T20I innings, there’s no doubt Rohit Sharma is one of the game’s all-time greats. However, his 2022 has been a mixed bag, reflected by his current ICC Men’s T20I Batter Rank of 16. He failed to score a half century or century in the 2022 IPL, and has been rested for several of India’s series.

However, the recent series against the West Indies has shown something of a turnaround in form for Sharma, with the opener crushing 33 from 16 in the 4th T20I, and 64 from 44 in the 1st T20I.

Despite other young batters showing form for India in recent times, Rohit Sharma is a key player when they face up against Pakistan. His experience, his cool head, and his ability to set the pace of a game and lead from the front are all crucial if the men in blue are going to win on August 28.

Virat Kohli: Is a Return to Form Key Against Pakistan?

India’s superstar batter and former captain, Virat Kohli, has barely been in the picture for the team’s T20I exploits this year.

However, he has managed to retain a place in the side, and is key for India if they are going to win against Pakistan.

This may seem like a bold call, given that India have been doing just fine without him in 2022. The reality is, however, that Kohli still has the class to win T20 matches almost single handedly, and should he perform on August 28, he could take the game away from Pakistan. Kohli’s performance also has an impact on the team—every time he uses up balls, or gets out for a low score, it puts pressure on the other batters.

Form is temporary, class is permanent, as they say.

If Kohli is going to continue to play T20I cricket for India, and it seems the coaches are committed to sticking with him through his downturn in form, then he needs to turn the ship around fast, or India may well be sunk.

Shaheen Afridi: The Man Who Can Sink India

Nine months ago, it was Shaheen Afridi’s brilliant pace bowling which put India to the sword in the 2021 T20 World Cup.

There’s no doubt he’ll be looking to do it again on August 28, and is a key player for Pakistan’s success.

It’s the opening overs where Afridi will be most dangerous. Just ask KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Afridi’s victims in their last match up. Bowling with genuine pace and a new ball swinging through the air, consistently hitting the right lengths, Afridi brings both bowled and lbw into play, as well as nicking through to the keeper.

If Afridi is able to remove two or three of India’s best batters in his opening overs again, one would imagine that an Indian side down 30/3 in the powerplay will struggle to keep up with Pakistan’s batting power.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Carrying the Load for India’s Pace Attack

Ranked in the world’s top ten T20 bowlers, Bhuvneshwar is a key player in any game.

However, with the recent exclusion of Jasprit Bumrah from the Asia Cup 2022 due to a back injury, the pressure is on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to step up and spearhead India’s new ball attack.

The veteran fast bowler took 12 wickets in 14 matches in the 2022 IPL, which was an improvement on previous seasons, but nothing compared to his form of 2014-2017. His form was also fairly flat in the recent T20I series against the West Indies, where he failed to take more than two wickets in a game.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and India will be looking for a big step up from Kumar to compensate for the lack of a world class bowler like Bumrah from their attack.

Tune in on 28 August to watch India vs Pakistan in their opening game of the Asia Cup 2022.