It’s that time in world cricket again. India play Pakistan in the group stage of the 2023 Asia Cup on Saturday, September 2 at Pallekele. A fixture that may take place two more time over the course of next fortnight as the six-team competition may see the two lock horns in the Super 4 and even the final.
In October, the two face off in the ODI World Cup in the 1 lakh plus capacitated Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. And so, the buzz around the contest is quite palpable. Former Australia cricketer Tom Moody has no doubts, it is the biggest cricket fixture in world cricket. Even above the Ashes, despite the oldest Test cricket rivalry producing an enticing 2-2 series recently in England.
“I think this match surpasses the Ashes,” Moody told Star Sports. “It’s always got a lovely story to it, and both are outstanding cricketing nations.”
Deciphering the two teams and the players on show, he added, “And when you look at that Pakistan squad, it does boast a lot of talent. But one thing that stands out for me is that it also boasts experience. So now they have the combination of experience and talent, they are a real threat. They can match India with their pace bowling; they’ve got genuine pace on their side, and the only issue I see them potentially having is the depth in the quality of their batting which India has got. So that’s going to be the interesting pressure that they put on the likes of Babar Azam at the top of the order.”
The last four meetings between the India and Pakistan have been all in T20Is, with both the teams having shared the spoils. While Pakistan beat India in their group stage fixture of the 2021 T20 World Cup, the men in blue returned the favor in the 2022 edition at Melbourne. At the Asia Cup last year, both would win a game each.
The last 50-over contest between the two nations dates back to June 16, 2019 when Virat Kohli-led India beat Sarfaraz Khan’s Pakistan at the 2019 World Cup in Manchester.
When asked about which player he thinks possesses the biggest threat to the Indian batting, Moody wouldn’t hesitate before naming, “Shaheen Afridi. Full Stop. I just think that Shaheen Afridi with the new ball is a major threat, which he has done historically. Broken through with that new ball, manages to blow away a couple of early wickets, which then opens up the middle order for India to resurrect things. Particularly for a middle order that hasn’t had a lot of game time.”
India and Pakistan are pitted against Nepal in Group A of the Asia Cup, while Sri Lanka – who are co-hosting the tournament alongside Pakistan – are with Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Group B.