India vs. Pakistan: Key Players and Prediction for Asia Cup Showdown

Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 1, 2014

India vs Pakistan will be an Asia Cup game to savour.
India vs Pakistan will be an Asia Cup game to savour.Gareth Copley/Getty Images

India vs. Pakistan is one of the best and most famous rivalries in the world of sport.

With only five one-day internationals between the two played over the last three years, Sunday's Asia Cup battle is one to savour for both sets of fans.

The Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, provides the neutral setting for a match which will really whet the appetite of the purist, despite neither side enjoying particularly good form, both having won one and lost one in their opening two games.

Defending Asia Cup champions Pakistan saw off the spirited challenge of Afghanistan by 72 runs but were out-thought by the Sri Lankan bowling attack, losing the match by just 12 runs.

India also lost to the Sri Lankans by two wickets but easily chased down the 280-run target set them by Bangladesh.

The last time these two arch-rivals met in the Asia Cup, India emerged triumphant by six wickets. The Pakistan target of 330 that day was successfully chased down in less than 48 overs, per Cricket Country.

Without captain MS Dhoni, who is out injured for this one, the Indian team will need to draw inspiration from elsewhere to ensure a similar outcome.


Key Players

Ravindra Jadeja

This is the sight all Indian fans would like to see again on Sunday.
This is the sight all Indian fans would like to see again on Sunday.Phil Walter/Getty Images

His team-mates call him Sir. His captain at IPL side Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne, nicknamed him "Rockstar."

Ravindra Jadeja is box office, the man for the big occasion. A supreme belief and confidence in his own ability is allied to all-round excellence.

His repertoire of spin variation makes him a very tricky customer to bat against as Australian captain Michael Clarke will attest to. The Indian maestro dismissed Clarke in five out of six innings during their Test series.

Jadega has hit the ground running in this Asia Cup tournament: The three wickets picked up against the Sri Lankans were for a measly 30 runs.

Whilst he is unlikely to emulate his three triple centuries in the Ranji Trophy, Jadega has shown himself to be adept with the bat, and the Pakistanis would do well not to underestimate either aspect of his game.


Shikhar Dhawan

Will it be third time lucky for Shikhar Dhawan in his quest for an elusive century?
Will it be third time lucky for Shikhar Dhawan in his quest for an elusive century?A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

For the second time in a fortnight, Shikar Dhawan has fallen just shy of a century.

A wonderful knock of 94 from just 114 deliveries against Sri Lanka earlier in this tournament was the highlight of the Indian innings.

Dhawan's prowess at the crease was described by NDTV Cricket:

Dhawan played a balanced knock - one that combined aggression with sensible nudges for ones and twos.

Dhawan's fifty took him just 68 deliveries and had five boundaries in it. His next fifty was equally measured as he targeted all parts of the ground to keep the score moving.

Although he did lose the company of an in-form Kohli, the setback hardly affected his rhythm. Dhawan, like most left-handers, was brilliant with his drives which were timed to perfection on a batting deck.

It follows the 98 scored in the Wellington Test against New Zealand and is the sign of a player in top form.

Never one afraid to take the game to the opposition, a good solid knock from Dhawan and fellow opener Rohit Sharma will allow India's middle order, in particular Virat Kohli, to build a foundation from which to win the game.


Junaid Khan

Junaid Khan will be fired up to break his duck against India.
Junaid Khan will be fired up to break his duck against India.Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

Khan is a genuine fast bowler, who is unplayable on his day. 

Sri Lanka found that out to their cost at the back end of last year when the left-arm pace man ripped through their attack, taking five wickets.

India know all about his accomplishments with the ball, as Emmad Hameed of the Express Tribune noted:

Junaid Khan has a psychological edge over [Virat] Kohli after having dismissed him on all three occasions in the bilateral ODI series last year.

The lack of a wicket so far at this tournament will only fire him up further to break his duck in this one.

You can't keep a good man down for long, and Khan is simply too good a bowler to allow this game to pass him by and give him an unwanted hat-trick.


Umar Akmal

Umar Akmal will be hoping that history repeats itself.
Umar Akmal will be hoping that history repeats itself.A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Pakistan's wicket-keeper has already made history at this tournament.

Akmal's unbeaten 102 from 89 balls against Afghanistan is the first time a Pakistani wicket-keeper has made a century in the Asia Cup. 

It was a sensational innings and a man-of-the-match award was therefore a given.

The nature of that knock, and a 74 against Sri Lanka in their other game, is enough evidence to show that if India fail to keep Akmal under wraps, it's likely he will again be the match-winner for Pakistan.

He plays against spin and pace equally well and is beginning to translate his obvious potential into important and vital innings.

Perhaps India's only hope of curtailing his excellence is if the local law enforcement catch up with the player, after an arrest warrant was issued for a traffic violation, per The News.



As so often happens in these titanic tussles, the game is as much about will to win as it is about ability.

Just a point separates the two in the most recent standings, and India can ill-afford to slip further behind their rivals.

Equally, Pakistan will not want to loosen their grip on a title won so impressively last time.

Expect the flat wicket to prove crucial to the outcome of this one, India adapting better to the conditions and taking this by a couple of wickets.