Kushal Mendis and Pathum Nishanka gave Sri Lanka a flying start against Afghanistan with an opening stand of 63 runs. Mendis returned for 36 and Nishanka for 35 runs. Sri Lanka won by 4 wickets. Photo: AFP
‘Birat Bhai is the best player. ‘
No, this is not the recognition given to Virat Kohli by someone in his own team. In the midst of another firefight between India and Pakistan, Haris Rauf said that Shital Parsha has put a chill on the eternal rivalry between the two teams. The Pakistani pacer wanted to declare that no matter how hot the political relations between the two countries are, it does not affect the cricketers.
Rather, the cricketers also removed the wall of geographical boundaries after the fight on the field. They extended the hand of friendship to each other. That is when the jersey signed by Kohli came to Rauf on the night of August 28. On the same day, Rohit Sharma’s India started this year’s Asia Cup with a 5-wicket win against Pakistan under the bat of Hardik Pandey.
Today’s Super Four match for Babar Azam’s Pakistan has therefore become a battle to level the bilateral series in a sense. Why did the word ‘series’ come to the multinational event? What is the way without coming! Due to the political differences between the two countries, they have not faced each other in a bilateral fight for many years. What happens is only in ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) tournaments.
This match, which is absolutely adorable for the spectators, is also considered to be the last word of cricket business. It is only from this one match that the bulk of the annual income of an organization like the ACC comes. So the Asia Cup means the table to face India-Pakistan as often as possible. This time the table has been arranged in such a way that these two teams can play against each other three times. They met once in the group stage. Today the fight is Super Four. Another India-Pakistan clash has been drawn in the imagination for the September 11 final as well. Although till now India-Pakistan has not reached the final in 14 times in the Asia Cup. But one or the other of these two teams has played the final every time. India, the maximum seven-time champion, has played in the final 10 times. Five-time champions Sri Lanka have reached the finals a maximum of 11 times. Two-time champions Pakistan have played in four finals. In 2018 in the ODI edition held in the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh destroyed the dream of India-Pakistan final. Despite being very close to the title, Bangladesh has been eliminated from the T20 Asia Cup in the group stage for the first time. That’s what it’s supposed to be. Twenty-twenties cricket that their situation is very fragile!
But the two superpowers in this edition are seeing their run to the very end. Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan has gone one step further and has already seen the pictures of the India-Pakistan final. If not, why will he say ‘best of three finals’ in front of the Super Four fight? Subconsciously Rahul Dravid is not seeing themselves in the final? The head coach of the Indian team was saying at the press conference yesterday, ‘We have four more matches left in this Asia Cup, which will be very helpful in World Cup preparations. ‘If the final is held with the three matches of the Super Four, then there are four matches. If they meet Pakistan in the fourth match, the Asia Cup will also become a three-match bilateral series.
Both teams were plagued by injuries before the second game of that series. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been eliminated from the Asia Cup. Jasprit Bumrah could not come here due to injury. For example, Pakistan did not get Shaheen Shah Afridi, the pacer who broke India’s batting backbone in the last T20 World Cup, in this Asia Cup. Another pacer Shahnewaz Dahani also got injured before the Super Four match against India. However, in the India match on August 28, Naseem Shah, who debuted in T20 cricket, created a storm of momentum. Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali are staying with them today.
The question arose that this Pakistan team’s pace attack is ahead of India? Rahul Dravid, however, gave the answer with a smile, ‘Be it 145 or 125 in bowling, at the end of the day, the bowling analysis of the bowler is the real thing. What matters is what the bowler gave you. Yes, Pakistan’s pace attack is definitely good. Good for us too. ‘ In the appearance of the previous two matches, the battle plan of Pakistan’s pacers is now arranged around Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandey. Rather than trying to pick up wickets, Rauf is taking the condition of success by hitting dot balls against them, ‘I am not thinking about taking wickets at all. I rather think of going dot ball as much as possible. Because the more you can defend the batsman in this version, the more the chances of picking up wickets will increase. ‘
Rauf will definitely want to trap the best player ‘Birat Bhai’ by playing dot ball in the match to equalize!