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An in-form India welcome Pakistan to the Asia Cup

India, Pakistan, Asia Cup T20, MS Dhoni, Shahid Afridi, Preview
India take on Pakistan in the fourth match of the 2016 Asia Cup T20 tournament at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Bangladesh on 27 February.

Two days after being cleared by their Government to play in the World T20 tournament next month, Pakistan face India in their opening match of the 2016 Asia Cup. While the game serves as a mere precursor to their marque clash in Dharamshala on March 19, it will be a chance for the two sides to size each other up.

The latest chapter in the India-Pakistan Asia Cup rivalry will see one surge ahead of the other in head-to-head stakes. It’s currently at 5-5, but with the format being changed from ODIs to T20s, previous results are immaterial. Pakistan would need as much of an edge they can get ahead of the World T20 while India look to maintain their recent form in the shortest format.

Pakistan landed in Bangladesh only on Wednesday, the day the tournament began with India thrashing the hosts. That may not seem ideal preparation but the reason for their delay was the conclusion of the inaugural Pakistan Super League, a T20 tournament which featured each of the players from their national side. In-tune with T20 cricket in the recent past, Pakistan will prove a daunting foe for India.

If there’s one side more dominant than any other in the T20 format currently, it is India. The young side with immense Indian Premier League experience have won six out of seven games in the past few weeks. Virat Kohli has tried to temper expectations ahead of the clash saying, “…on the field it’s the same as playing any other team.”

But Kohli’s kidding no one. The build up to the Asia Cup has centred on this one game, despite it being no more than a glorified warm up to the clash in India. The men in Blue have form on their side; Pakistan have motivation on theirs. A green-top in Dhaka awaits the two sides. Super Saturday couldn’t come any sooner.

 Squads

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harbhajan Singh

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammed Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammed Nawaz, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Amir, Mohamed Irfan, Mohammed Sami, Wahab Riaz, Anar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imaad Wasim, Mohammed Amir.

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