Ex-Pakistan bowler identifies colossal ‘setback’ for India ahead of IND vs PAK | Cricket

The stage is set for a cricketing spectacle as the Asia Cup 2023 gears up for a colossal showdown between India and Pakistan this Saturday. It’s a meeting that holds immense significance as it marks the first time these arch-rivals will face off in an ODI since the 2019 World Cup. While their encounters in T20s during the 2021 and 2022 World Cups and the 2022 Asia Cup provided thrilling moments, this ODI clash adds an extra layer of intensity to their age-old rivalry.

Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma during a training session ahead of the Asia Cup 2023, in Bengaluru(PTI)
Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma during a training session ahead of the Asia Cup 2023, in Bengaluru(PTI)

Pakistan arrives at this showdown with confidence surging after a resounding 238-run victory over Nepal. They’ve swiftly moved to Kandy for this high-stakes encounter, while India will be stationed in Sri Lanka for the entirety of the tournament.

Ahead of the high-octane clash, though, India had received a setback when head coach Rahul Dravid confirmed that KL Rahul – the first-choice wicketkeeper-batter – is still recovering from a niggle and is ruled out of the group stage of the continental tournament. Rahul’s injury means India will likely field their second-choice keeper – Ishan Kishan – in his place; the problem, however, remains that the young keeper has batted primarily in the opening role where Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill have already cemented their places.

Former Pakistan bowler Wahab Riaz, talking to Zalmi TV ahead of the blockbuster clash between the arch-rivals, stated that India will be missing Rahul at no.5 in the batting order.

“KL Rahul’s injury is definitely a setback for India, because he is important to them in the middle order and can handle the pressure well. I have played against him in the 2019 World Cup and he is a solid player,” said Riaz.

While Rahul remains injured, one of the silver linings has been the return of Shreyas Iyer, who will most likely take on the no.4 spot in the order. Also returning is the pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj, boosting the Indian bowling attack multifold.

‘Dismiss Rohit early’

Wahab also stressed on the need to dismiss India captain Rohit Sharma early to gain advantage over India. Conversely, the former Pakistan bowler insisted that Pakistan’s top-order batters need to be conservative in the first few overs.

Pakistan have to find a way to dismiss Rohit Sharma early. He has consistently scored big against Pakistan. Babar and Imam need to see off India’s new ball burst.

“Whichever team makes the most of the first 10 overs will have the grip on the game. Both India’s and Pakistan’s batting are dependent on their respective top 3 to score big and that’s why I feel it will be a battle of the new ball,” said the former pacer.

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