India and Pakistan meet in the sixth match of the 2014 Asia Cup on Sunday, renewing one of most fierce rivalries in international sport.
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Date: Sunday, Mar. 2, 2014
Start time: 8 a.m. GMT (2 p.m. local)
Live on: Star Life OK (Sky Channel 783, UK)
Weather: The Weather Channel is predicting a fine and mostly sunny day, with the top temperature expected to reach a warm 31 degrees Celsius by mid-afternoon. Light breezes will be present throughout the day, with the temperature cooling towards 19 degrees Celsius by late evening.
Few encounters in world sport stir more emotion and passion than India and Pakistan's clashes in cricket's One-Day International arena.
The rich and colourful history of the rivalry between the two nations has been set against an undercurrent of political and cultural tension, seeing their battles on the cricket field grow to embody a heightened ferocity that few sporting clashes can match.
On Sunday, the two countries will resume hostilities when they face off for the first time since the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Interestingly, both teams arrive at the sixth match of the ongoing Asia Cup in similar circumstances, having comfortably brushed aside an inferior opponent despite succumbing to Sri Lanka.
Under the guidance of Virat Kohli, India will look to repeat the manner of their performance against Bangladesh, when their top order displayed the formidable strength it has grown renowned for.
Kohli himself was magnificent in that match, blazing 136 from 122 deliveries to steer the Indians home. With Shikhar Dhawan also looking in good touch after his 94 on Friday, India's hopes against Pakistan will be pinned to the fortunes of their batsmen.
Pakistan, meanwhile, will look to exploit the weaknesses that are inherent in India's bowling stocks, given the powerful batting displays that have become associated with Misbah-ul-Haq's team in recent months.
Much of that duty will fall to Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez at the top, while Shahid Afridi will look to punish India's struggles with the ball towards the end of an innings.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Varun Aaron, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Fawad Alam, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal (wk), Umar Gul
Players to Watch
India: Mohammed Shami could prove to be a decisive figure in this encounter but which team will benefit from his performance is often wildly unpredictable.
At his best, the right-arm seamer is a vastly threatening spearhead for his captain, with his ability to swing the ball late and penchant for attacking the stumps ensuring the regular capture of wickets.
However, when Shami gets it wrong, he really gets it wrong. Against Sri Lanka on Friday, the opener conceded 81 runs from his 10 overs at a time when his team-mates were admirably containing the opposition's batsmen.
If the 23-year-old can claim top-order scalps, India will be hard to beat in this match. But if his performance lurches towards the other extreme, Kohli will have his hands full as captain.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi will play a critical role in this match with both bat and ball.
Against an Indian team that has question marks hanging over its bowling brigade, Afridi's enigmatic lower-order hitting could prove invaluable for Pakistan at the death of their innings.
In the field, Afridi's role will be even more prominent, as Misbah-ul-Haq will look to the all-rounder to quell India's strong batting line-up during the middle overs of the innings. On subcontinental pitches, Afridi's fast wrist-spin can be difficult to score freely against, and his preference for coming around the wicket will cramp India's right-handers for room.
While his emphatic performances remain few and far between, Pakistan invariably triumph when Afridi excels.
Although the teams' performances have been rather similar in this tournament, Pakistan's extended form-line is substantially superior to that of India.
While Kohli and his top-order team-mates are among the best batsmen in the tournament, the absence of M.S. Dhoni and the team's bowling frailties leave a sense of uncertainty in this Indian team.
With a stronger attack and a more settled line-up, Pakistan should edge their fierce rivals in this one.
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