The last time Pakistan and India clashed in the Asia Cup it was 2014. But Shahid Afridi thought it was 1986 and smashed Aswhin for two successive sixes in the final over to give Pakistan a one wicket win.
The Asia Cup is back again; as is Pakistan vs India., the most awaited cricket clash, which just does not happen quite as often as we would like it to.
That encounter in 2014 leveled Pakistan and India at 5 wins apiece in Asia Cup encounters. Unlike the World Cup, the Asia Cup seems to be a more level playing field.
But this time, the Asia Cup is different. It has adopted the T20 format for the first time, following the decision by the respective boards that the Asia Cup will be in the T20 format in the years with the World T20 and ODI format in the years with the ICC World Cup.
Surprising right that the boards do actually employ smart people.
So the clock starts from zero again.
Pakistan 0 India 0.
T20 seems to be firmly India's territory having beaten 5 times in the format with Pakistan beating them only once. Even though Pakistan has the more superior record in overall T20 Internationals, India comes out trumps in clashes between the two teams.
As always it is going to be about India's batting and Pakistan's bowling. From the times of Wasim-Waqar vs Sachin to Shoaib-Asif vs Dravid and Sehwag, we are now in the times of Aamir-Irfan-Wahab vs Kohli-Sharma-Dhawan.
India's recent form suggests that they are favorites going into this game. Their batting has been in superb form and unless Pakistan's pacers can put a roadblock in front of India's Top 3, this match will be out of their hands.
For Pakistan however, the timing of this Asia Cup, and the following World T20, is ideal considering that it has followed the just concluded Pakistan Super League. Many of Pakistan's squad members are coming of successful PSL stints, which bodes well for their confidence going into the match against India.
All logic and sense typically go out the window once Pakistan and India take the field, and emotion kicks in. But still, numbers do tell some story. Here are some in context of the match tonight.
- Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal are among the only 6 batsmen in the world that have scored over 1,500 runs in T20 Internationals.
- Pakistan and India both have 4 batsmen each with over 1,000 runs in T20 Internationals - Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Afridi, Malik, Kohli, Sharma, Raina, Yuvraj.
- Virat Kohli's average of 48.88 in T20 Internationals is the highest in the world. No qualification for number of runs or innings required. The man is a batting giant!
- Shahid Afridi's strike rate of 149.4 in T20 Internationals is the 4th highest in the world. No qualifications required.
- Shahid Afridi is the leading wicket taker in the world in T20 Internationals. Pakistan has 5 bowlers in the top 20 wicket takers (Afridi, Gul, Ajmal, Tanvir, Hafeez). India has none.
- Shahid Afridi has the 5th best economy rate among bowlers with at least 50 wickets in T20 Internationals.
- MS Dhoni (58) is the most capped T20I captain. Afridi is 4th on that list.
Tonight will be the first of the definite two and potentially four T20 matches that Pakistan and India will play over the coming month.
So this is just the start.
Let the nerves kick in...