India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 1, 2014

Stakes high in marquee clash

The Preview by Karthik Krishnaswamy

Match facts

March 2, 2014
Start time 1400 local (0800 GMT)

Big picture

India and Pakistan have won one match each, and have each lost a close game against Sri Lanka. It's a cliché to call this India-Pakistan meeting a virtual semi-final, but that, under the circumstances, might well ring true. Neither side has performed to anything like full capacity so far. India's bowlers didn't look particularly threatening even against Bangladesh, and Pakistan's top-order tardiness nearly cost them against Afghanistan. Both teams made match-turning errors against Sri Lanka.

Ordinarily, as has been the case throughout the recent history of the two sides, this would be billed as a clash between India's batsmen and Pakistan's bowlers. Those are still the respective teams' strong suits, but an inexperienced middle-order might put India at a disadvantage in that particular mini-contest. Pakistan will also be playing an India side that could be a little low on confidence, having won only one out of their last nine completed ODI matches.

A lot of Pakistan's batsmen looked good out in the middle in their first two games, but nearly all of them threw their wickets away with silly shots or, in the case of their captain Misbah-ul-Haq, a comedy run-out. After their match against Afghanistan, Misbah said the batsmen couldn't afford to keep repeating the same mistakes, but indicated he would keep faith in the same batting order. Fawad Alam waits in the wings, but it might be a little unfair on Sharjeel Khan or Sohaib Maqsood to single one of them out for two displays of collective carelessness.

Zaheer Abbas, Pakistan's chief cricket consultant, said on Saturday that the rash shots might have been cases of the batsmen looking to get out of jail on a sluggish Fatullah pitch. The ball, he said, was likely to come on a little quicker in Mirpur.

Pakistan's players trained on Saturday, while the Indians - barring Varun Aaron and Cheteshwar Pujara - didn't. Aaron bowled to a dummy batsman, with a circular target attached to the net behind off stump, while Pujara faced a group of net bowlers who were barely club class. Of the two, Aaron seems likelier to play against Pakistan, with India perhaps looking to give their middle-order combination one more chance before making any changes. With no one talking to the media, though, this remains pure conjecture.

Aaron hardly covered himself in glory against Bangladesh, and was left out for the allrounder Stuart Binny for the Sri Lanka game. Binny, in that match, was out for a duck and only bowled four overs. More than their respective displays, the shift in venue might prompt India to go back to having a genuine third seamer.

Spinners have more or less similar records in Fatullah and Mirpur, but the quicker bowlers have done distinctly better at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. India have Aaron and Ishwar Pandey to choose between for that third seamer's slot, but the amount of time Aaron spent bowling on Saturday suggests he might have a role to play.

Form guide

(Completed matches, most recent first)


Pakistan WLLWW

Watch out for

Bhuvneshwar Kumar made an impressive international debut against Pakistan 14 months ago, and has looked good with the new ball so far in the tournament without having the wickets to show for it. He also seems to have worked on his death bowling, and was particularly accurate with his yorkers against Bangladesh. That aspect of his game suffered against Sri Lanka, with dew making it difficult to grip the ball, but it will help India greatly if he can hit the blockhole consistently in this game.

Ahmed Shehzad's gotten off to fine starts in both his innings so far, but he will want to make bigger scores than 28 and 50. Shehzad has the spiky hair and prominent eyebrows of Virat Kohli, and some of his shots suggest a comparable level of talent. There's no better way to prove that than making big score against India.

Match facts

If the pitch in Mirpur plays true to its history, India will want a genuine third seamer rather than a medium-pace-bowling allrounder. This means Varun Aaron might come back in for Stuart Binny, but the side is likely to remain unchanged otherwise.

India (likely): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Varun Aaron.

Pakistan's top-order hasn't been consistent, and Shahid Afridi, in his current avatar, seems to be occupying a place too high in the batting order, but they are unlikely to make any changes from their eleven against Afghanistan.

Pakistan (likely): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Sohaib Maqsood, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Anwar Ali, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan.

Stats and trivia

  • If he plays, Ravindra Jadeja will make his 100th ODI appearance .
  • The last meeting between India and Pakistan in Mirpur, in March 2012, was Sachin Tendulkar's last ODI appearance.


"It is more of a media creation. It is not really for the players. They play their normal game. The pressure always comes from the public as they want their country to win."
Pakistan cricket consultant Zaheer Abbas on the pressures of India-Pakistan cricket

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hameed on March 2, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    Kohli's twin brother Ahmad Shehzad , I cant recognize who is Kohli and who is Shehzad these all Indian Pakistani all look same to me. India has great batting side Pak has no answer for that while Bowling Pak has 20 percent advantage over India, overall what I see big brother has 51 to 49 advantage. The difference is only Afridi. If he could last three overs game is over in Pak favor'. Shahid come out swinging on every ball when would he learn to play cricket. I guess when he retires and say I should have stop that ball can Pak give me another chance. He is dangerous tiger in a cage a great entertainer for world of cricket. I am Pakistani strangely I want the tie so their countries do not feel bad. It is always a war out there but for players it is just a game but spectators are the problem from each country. Spectators from both countries should be banned from the game.I am Pakistani but I was born in India so I am on both sides equally so Tie would be the best solution for me.

  • Sunny on March 2, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Rayudu looks as listless as ever. Rahane can best play a supporting role and not dominate an attack as good as Pak.Karthik played a shocking shot 3rd ball and disappoints more often than not.Sharma. So this batting order means they cannot get a good score unless Kohli scores a 120+.

  • Android on March 2, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    who ever win today will get a trash for the life time from Mighty Sri Lankans on Finals..... !!!

  • Raisul on March 2, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    India don't deserve to win the match with such kind of team. India need yuvraj dhoni raina. Shewag/Gamvir will better than rohit in the opening position. Because he slow the runrate and got out quickly. He does not consistent. More over such kind of slow start does not match with indian batting line up. India has a very poor bowling line up. So they have to be attacking in the batting. Pakistan need good batting to win this game. Best of luck pakistan and India......

  • Isra on March 2, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    It's a big day indeed and I think it's the sort of game today where every player will want to leave a positive mark for their respective team. Emotions and expectations are on a high for sure! All the very best Team Pakistan! :D #teampakforlife

  • Sid on March 2, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Bold move by Captain Kohli - for Binny Out and Mishra In.

    India need to set 280-300 Target.

    Misbah-ul-Haq took Bold decision too as Pakistan failed to chase more than 250 runs since Feb 2011 in their last 12 matches and last time Pakistan successfully chased against India was in July 2008 in Karachi.

    But it's all new day and new game. Hope better teams win. Best wishes to both #IndvsPak

  • Dummy4 on March 2, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    Toss outcome should be made automatically alternative between any 2 teams, so no toss for every match, so on a long term basis both the teams get equal number of toss wins. Captains like dhoni keeps on winning almost every toss where other captains hardly win even one toss, it is shame really. Toss does give some advantage in many matches. Of course a good team should win irrespective of whether they win the toss or not, but it is not fair for a luck factor like toss to have so much impact in a serious game like cricket. I am sure the moment dhoni returns he will start winning the toss again. Captains like sourav, sachin, dravid have lost so many matches due to not winning the toss and now kholi too experiencing this poor luck issue. While dhoni fans wants the current toss approach to continue whereas dhoni non-fans like me want this toss format to be changed so it should be made automatically alternative win or loss instead of tossing coin each time.

  • vivek on March 2, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    kohli dont want people from bangalore in rcb also he avoided karnataka people. in indian team also hes not allowing binny to grow. give binny chance atlest 0.5% of the chances given to rohit and raina he will show power of bangaloreans.jai karnataka

  • Vivek on March 2, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    BCCI is clearly not giving any importance to this tournament? Selecting guys like Rayudu when Gauti, Yuvi, Raina, Viru, Uthappa are sitting at home, India can actually ground a better 11 than this one just with unselected players. BCCI WILL RUIN INDIAN CRICKET before world cricket!

  • vivek on March 2, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    throw rohit out and allow rahane to open.keep binny give him chance