Asia Cup: All eyes on Amir as Pakistan take on India
Indian crikceter Virat Kohli (2L) plays football with teammates during a training session at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah .
Mirpur - The match will also serve as a pre-cursor to the two teams' opening round battle in the ICC World Twenty20, next month.
World cricket's most intriguing rivalry will once again be renewed when India take on Pakistan with rehabilitated pacer Mohammad Amir being the focus of attention in a round-robin league encounter of the Asia Cup T20 tournament on Saturday.
The match will also serve as a pre-cursor to the two teams' opening round battle in the ICC World Twenty20, next month.
The Indo-Pak cricket contests over the years have carried a legacy, not to forget the political undercurrents involved whenever the two neighbours square off on the 22 yards. But the most exciting aspect will be whether tainted Amir gets to play in the XI.
Back after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing, Amir has started playing for the national team since the tour of New Zealand and this immensely talented bowler will certainly come out all guns blazing against the Indian batsmen.
For Amir though, a good performance against India will probably help him gain some credibility not only in the dressing room but also among the common cricket-loving public in Pakistan.
In terms of preparation, both teams have been suitably prepared considering the amount of Twenty20 cricket they have played in the past one month.
India already kicked off their World T20 preparations in style, having won six out of the seven games played so far. Pakistan cricketers, on the other hand, are coming straight after playing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which keeps them well prepared.
Traditionally, India have never ever lost to Pakistan in the global events but it has not been the case in the continental event where Shahid Afridi and co have performed well.
However, the Asia Cup has never been played in the T20 format, which is also a first. The two teams met exactly a year and 11 days back in Adelaide during the 50-over World Cup game which India won by 76 runs.
The Indian team, under Dhoni, is peaking at the right time with all the departments coming together. The emergence of Hardik Pandya as a batting all-rounder, who can bowl seam-up, has lent the side requisite balance that Dhoni had long been craving for.
Over the years, one has been a witness to Pakistan teams hitting the zenith and nadir in a space of few matches. On paper, Indians are way ahead in each and every department of the game but the beauty of this game is Pakistan's unpredictability.
The only worry would be Dhoni's back spasm even though he played ignoring the pain against Bangladesh in their 45-run win. In case Dhoni decides to skip, there is Parthiv Patel as cover.
For Pakistan, their opening pair is likely to be Mohammed Hafeez and Sharjeel Khan, who just had a good PSL scoring 299 runs for his franchise.
However, compared to the Dhawan-Rohit pairing, the duo of Sharjeel-Hafeez don't have the same kind of pedigree.
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The Pakistan cricketers (left) and players from India seen during a training session ahead of their Asia Cup round-robin clash. — AFP