The rivalry that has has been described by even The New York Times as the “world’s greatest sporting rivalry” with “all the feelings of the New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox rivalry in baseball, Barcelona vs Real Madrid in soccer and England vs Australia in any sport had been distilled and deepened with an extra dose of hostile geopolitics and the passions of 1.4 billion people,” is all set for its next chapter today as the two neighbours take on each other in Asia Cup.
For citizens of both countries, it’s the ultimate cricket match, and for the rest of the cricketing world, it’s a match to watch out for.
While the two teams may not play a bilateral series any more thanks to numerous external factors, when they do meet in major tournaments, they give us a match to remember. Be it the first ever ICC World Twenty20 or the recent 2015 World Cup match, India vs Pakistan encounters have been full of superlative performances, high on emotions, both for players and fans. And there is so much more to the matches than just the result — from records to bragging rights (just ask that Mauka, Mauka guy!)
In Asia Cup too, there have been remarkable matches, from Virat Kohli’s fantastic 183 to to Shahid Afridi’s lst over heroics. But the 2016 Asia Cup will be different, it’s not the classic 50-over game but the more unpredictable T20 format, and, without the knockout format, both teams’ overall chances, more than just qualifying, hinges on the result. And the players will be aware of just how vital their individual performances will be.
As the two neighbours gear up to battle it out, here are some of the one-on-one player battles we are looking forward to.
The newest member of the Indian team pitted against the most experienced player in Pakistan may seem like an unfair contest. But the best way to describe this battle between two very flamboyant players is that young Hardik Pandya is the kind of batsman that can take the boom boom to Shahid Afridi. For all his batting exploits, the 35-year old Afridi is in team mainly as a bowler right now and will be looking to unsettle the Indian middle and lower order, where Pandya plans to play his cameo.
Traditionally, Afridi hasn’t done well against India and he will be looking to rectify that record – his T20 bowling average is 46 against India in the six matches he has played, and ir’s even worse in ODIs where he averages 60 runs a wicket in 60 innings.