After a successful outing in West Indies, barring the T20Is, and Ireland, Team India is ready for their next assignment, which is the Asia Cup 2023. The team will get their campaign underway against arch-rivals Pakistan, which is scheduled to be played in Kandy on Tuesday.
India have picked a 17-member squad for the continental tournament with senior pros Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli returning to the side. The tournament also marks the return of Shreyas Iyer after a long injury layoff but KL Rahul is still unfit and won’t be available for the first two matches.
In the bowling front the management will be happy to see Jasprit Bumrah’s progress, who will be leading the seam department with Mohhamad Shami. Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, who made a comeback after injuries, were exceptional in Ireland and the duo are also part of India’s Asia Cup plans.
Despite assembling a formidable unit, former Pakistan opener Salman Butt feels Babar Azam and Co. will have the edge heading into the much anticipated clash in Kandy. He tried justifying his claim by comparing both sides.
“If we look at India’s fast bowling, fitness is a concern. Players have been unfit for a long time, we don’t know if they are fragile, will they go full throttle. Apart from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, they have youngsters, who have played plenty of cricket but they don’t have that much of experience.
“India have won matches only when Rohit Sharma has played well or Virat Kohli has done something spectacular. When the onus is on others they have mostly struggled.”
“Pakistan have Babar, Rizwan, Fakhar, Shadab, Shaheen, Haris Rauf. And in my opinion Pakistan have a much larger core group. India too have match-winners like Jadeja, Shami, Bumrah, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli. But their batting is brittle, if Pakistan pick the two big wickets then the others will have a lot to prove. They have not helped India win matches against Pakistan or in their own,” the ex-Pakistan cricketer said in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Pakistan have an ‘added advantage’
Comparing the seam attacks, Butt also mentioned Pakistan have an “added advantage”.
“We have bowlers who can bowl at 90mph, only one or two can touch 90mph, others don’t have that much pace. This is an added advantage. We have both type of spinners, fast bowling all-rounder, and he too touches 140kph,” he said.
Pressure on India
Butt also feels that it will be the Indian team who will be under pressure considering the amount of expectations from them.
“There are plenty of expectations from India, hence the pressure is more. And since India have not played against Pakistan for a long time for whatever reasons, their players no matter how much IPL they’ve played, they don’t have the experience of playing in such high-voltage clash. Chahe subah, dopahar, sham IPL khel le (no matter how much you play in the IPL) it does not bring the same pressure, which is during India-Pakistan series,” he said.