Match Preview – India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup 2023, 9th Match, Super Four


Big picture: Rain threat in Colombo

The tournament has moved to Colombo, with India and Pakistan looking to resume their rivalry after rain had held sway in Pallekele. The weather, however, continues to be a threat. It could be another wet day on September 10, with chances of precipitation up to 90%. The is a reserve day now for this game – the only match apart from the final to have that luxury – but the forecast once again is similarly bleak.
India’s match against Nepal too was affected by rain. If the weather clears up in Colombo, India will test out the readiness of KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah for the ODI World Cup.

Rahul hasn’t played in an ODI since March while Bumrah hasn’t bowled in one since July. And in order to accommodate Rahul in the XI, India’s team management might have to bench Ishan Kishan, who has reeled off four half-centuries in his last four innings in the format. Decisions, decisions.

For the duration play was possible in Pallekele, India’s batters and Pakistan’s attack teased a gripping contest. There could be more of the same in Colombo or perhaps just rain across two days.

India WWLWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)Pakistan WWWWW

In the spotlight: KL Rahul and Naseem Shah

After spending four months on the sidelines, KL Rahul is set to slot back into India’s ODI XI. Kishan has shaken things up in the recent past and has grabbed almost every opportunity, but Rahul has got the vote of confidence from the selectors and the team management. At a recent press conference, India’s captain Rohit Sharma saw the possibility of having both Rahul and Kishan in the XI, but that appears unlikely. It will be Rahul vs Kishan in the lead-up to the World Cup. Sunday’s fixture against Pakistan could well be Rahul’s first chance to prove his fitness and form.

Naseem Shah doesn’t often find banana swing like Shaheen Shah Afridi and doesn’t often breach 150kph like Haris Rauf. But the 20-year-old can get the ball to really skid off the pitch as he isn’t as tall as the other two. On his T20I debut against India, at the Asia Cup in Dubai last year, he had Rahul chopping on for a first-ball duck and then almost had Virat Kohli in the same over. Can Naseem best Rahul in the 50-overs Asia Cup on Sunday as well?

Team news: Bumrah is back

After missing the game against Nepal for the birth of his first child, Bumrah has rejoined the side for the Super Four round, and is set to return to the XI along with Rahul. There could be no room for both Mohammed Shami and Kishan.

India (probable): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Rohit Sharma (capt), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Naseem had had an injury scare against Bangladesh in Lahore, but he later returned to the field after some treatment from the physio. He is likely to be fit for the match against India. Mohammad Nawaz, who sat out against a left-hander-heavy Bangladesh line-up, could be back for a crack at India’s right-hander-heavy line-up.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam (capt), 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Agha Salman, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Mohammad Nawaz/Faheem Ashraf, 9 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 10 Naseem Shah, 11 Haris Rauf

All eyes will be on the skies, as has been the case throughout this tournament. The pitch that was used for the LPL final at the Premadasa was fairly two-paced and the one for the Afghanistan-Pakistan ODI in late August wasn’t particularly batting-friendly either. There could be some juice for both seamers and spinners on Sunday too.

“They are very different fast bowlers and they have their own specialities. Shaheen gets the ball to swing a lot. Naseem is all about pace and likes help from the wicket. They present different challenges in different conditions.Shubman Gill on the threat posed by Pakistan’s quicks

“We have spent two-and-a-half months in Sri Lanka including the Test series, LPL, Afghanistan series, and now the Asia Cup. So you could say we have a slight edge over India because of that.”Babar Azam finds a different kind of home advantage for his team

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