Asia Cup Preview: Pakistan Vs India

Sean DeanContributor IJune 25, 2008

On Thursday, the Asia Cup really kicks off in Karachi, Pakistan, where India and Pakistan renew the greatest rivalry in cricket.

So far, the Asia Cup has been relatively low key with the big fish facing off with some of the minnows with predictable results, with India beat Honk Kong by 256 runs and Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 131 runs today.

Whilst both sides are guaranteed to progress to the last four, there is no doubt that there is still plenty riding on this match. Both sides will be bringing back rested stars and keen to see where there team is at for the knockout stages of the tournament, whilst a win will send a psychological blow to there rivals and also gaining those all important bragging writes.

This match is going to be close but India has to be close favorites with such awesome hitting power in their top seven.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina both hit centuries as India posted 374-4 against HK, with the explosive Yuvraj Singh rested and all rounder Irfan Pathan nursing a side strain. If Pathan returns he should bolster the bowling attack, along with teenager, Ishant Sharma. Add that to the young and old spin pair of Piyush Chawla and Virender Sehwag, seamer, Praveen Kumar and India are going to be very difficult to beat.

That said this match is going to be played on Pakistani soil and Pakistan hosts a team of match winners; the question is whether they'll turn up.

Shahid Afridi can hit the ball further and harder than anyone on his day, Misbah-ul-Haq is one of the leading run scorers in limited overs cricket and Sohail Tanvir was one the best bowlers of the IPL. Salman Butt also averages over 50 against India and Mohammad Yousef and Younis Khan know the right way to hold a bat.

The winner of this match will play Bangladesh and the loser Sri Lanka. That is unless UAE finds a way of getting Sangakkara et al out cheaply, as Sri Lanka comfortably beat Bangladesh by 131 runs, with Sangakkara raching three figures, with an impressive cast including Sanath Jayasuriya (72) and Chamara Kapugedera (74).

If Bangladesh is going to win then the top order has to get runs on the board for their bowlers to bowl at, however they've proved in the past they are more than capable of pulling off an upset.

The smart money has got to be on a India - Sri Lanka final, but as the series between England and New Zealand has shown the 50 over game is far from dead and anything can happen.