MIRPUR: World cricket’s most intriguing rivalry will once again be renewed when India take on an unpredictable Pakistan with rehabilitated pacer Mohammad Amir being the focus of attention in a round-robin league encounter of the Asia Cup T20 tournament on Saturday.
The match will also serve as a pre-cursor to the two teams’ opening round battle in the ICC World Twenty20, next month.
The Indo-Pak cricket contests over the years have carried a legacy, not to forget the political undercurrents involved whenever the two bitter neighbours square off on the 22 yards.
But the most exciting aspect will be whether Amir gets to play in the XI.
Back after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing, Amir has started playing for the national team since the tour of New Zealand and this immensely talented bowler will certainly come out all guns blazing against the Indian batsmen.
Virat Kohli has already welcomed Amir’s return but not much is known as to what other Indian players, including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, think about Amir’s inclusion.
For Amir though, a good performance against India will probably help him gain some credibility not only in the dressing room but also among the common cricket-loving public in Pakistan.
In terms of preparation, both teams have been suitably prepared considering the amount of Twenty20 cricket they have played in the past one month.
Traditionally, India have never ever lost to Pakistan in the global events but it has not been the case in the continental event where Shahid Afridi and co have performed well. However, the Asia Cup has never been played in the T20 format, which is also a first.
The two teams met exactly a year and 11 days back in Adelaide during the 50-over World Cup game which India won by 76 runs. Post World Cup, the proposed series on a neutral venue never happened as the BCCI did not get approval from the Indian government. In the spin bowling department, the absence of leg- spinner Yasir Shah will be a problem for the Pakistan team. Afridi will bowl his fast leg-breaks but the Indians have played him well in the past without much difficulty.