Traditionally, India-Pakistan cricket matches have been considered contests decided by batting the former and bowling the latter. That hasn’t changed much over the years, but their latest confrontation may have given us a new perspective on this.
The Men in Blue’s first loss to their neighbors at a World Cup came last year – a complete withdrawal by 10 wickets. With India having 152 runs to defend, the bowling attack consisting of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami could not pick a single wicket as Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan finished the game singlehandedly.
So, as India enter their next meeting with Pakistan in the Asian Cup, the task of their bowling unit will be reduced to a Pakistani batting order with several options and the absence of some big names in their first-choice bowling attack. .
Babar, not the only big name in Pakistani baton
A big reason for Pakistan’s run to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup last year was the fact that they had multiple match winners at bat except of course Babar who was the tournament top scorer.
Rizwan was not too far behind his captain in the points column with 281 in six outings including three fifty. Both have scored over 1,000 T20I races since the start of 2021 and are the only two apart from Nicholas Pooran to have done so.
Fakhar Zaman came to the party against Australia, hitting the white ball at a strike rate over 170 in the semi-finals.
Asif Ali cooked two authentic T20 cameos in the group stage (27* on 12 balls against New Zealand and 25* on 7 balls against Afghanistan) which brought wins to Pakistan despite the fact that the higher order n didn’t score big. The 30-year-old strikes the ball at a strike rate of over 150 wearing the colors of Pakistan in the format since 2021. Mohammad Nawaz too. While they may not have racked up as many runs as the top two, Pakistan’s middle order consists of the go-big-or-go-home brand of T20 hitters, who resonate well with the format .
That captain Babar was greedy in all formats ahead of the Asian Cup is a huge plus, but this Pakistani striker isn’t one to look confused and out of options if his talisman comes back early.
Litmus test for Indian bowlers ahead of World Cup
It’s hard to imagine an Indian team playing in the T20 World Cup without Bumrah, one of the rare breed of all-format performers in contemporary cricket. Harshal Patel, since that monster of a season IPL 2021, has also been visibly in the team management’s plans for the format’s main event in Australia this year. Both will miss the Asian Cup due to injuries. And in their absence, the beat includes Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan. The presence of Hardik Pandya will reinforce the attack but let’s keep an eye on the aforementioned three, who have something to prove.
Bhuvneshwar, who has been a leader of India’s T20I bowling attack for most of this summer, will once again have that responsibility. The 32-year-old picked the most wickets for India (23) after last year’s tournament in the United Arab Emirates. This in-swinger by Jos Buttler will be remembered for a long time.
Now India have paired Avesh as Bhuvneshwar’s new ball partner before and that looks more likely to be the case for this tournament as well. For someone who has 11 wickets in 12 T20Is and an economy rate of over 8.5 over runs, this is a great opportunity for Avesh to emerge as a contender for that ticket to Australia in October. . Arshdeep may only have half the number of T20Is under his belt, but his impact has been huge – nine wickets at a saving of just 6.33, which is the best for any Indian bowler who has bowled in more of five T20Is since the last World Cup.
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Even before playing for India, the 23-year-old had been touted as a thoroughbred T20 by many, thanks to his IPL performances which made him one of only two players retained by Punjab Kings. Being a medium-fast left-arm bowler – you don’t see much of that anymore – the simple science of the unique angle he brings adds to his skill in smothering hitters in death overs with line variation , length and pace, Arshdeep could well be the bowler India deploy alongside Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar at the World Cup.
So, deal done, right? A hitting unit with multiple running options. A bowling unit that has its own tests to pass. It was time for us to lend ourselves a new perspective as we watched India play Pakistan.