For a cricket fan, it doesn’t get better or bigger than this. India is playing Pakistan in the UAE after nearly 12 years, hence the significance of today’s (September 19, 2018) match can’t be talked about enough. The Dubai International Stadium will be packed with expats who have been waiting for this mouth-watering contest. The last time the two sides met was at the ICC Champions trophy in 2017 but India were completely outplayed by Pakistan. So what’s going to happen today?
Ahead of the all-important game, we got former RJ Harsha Poojary who is currently providing commentary for FM Channel 89.1 to give a brief analysis.
Harsha’s answer is clear: Between the two teams, at least on this day, Pakistan has a bigger advantage than India. The reasons are as below:
1) IT’S LIKE A HOME COUNTRY FOR PAKISTAN
The UAE has almost been like a home country for Pakistan. Ever since international cricket stopped being staged in Pakistan, the UAE has become a neutral ground for the team. So in the last few years, thanks to league matches as well as ODIs, the Pakistani cricketers have played here a lot. They know the conditions well which they can exploit to their advantage.
2) PAKISTAN HAS BETTER RECORD IN THE UAE
In the UAE, Pakistan and India have played each other 26 times. India have won seven times while Pakistan has won a whopping 19 games. Needless to say, the historical advantage is huge.
3) VIRAT KOHLI’s ABSENCE
Virat Kohli has been rested for this tournament that has been a huge blow to India. He was one of the few batsmen who played well in the England series. Kohli’s absence is a drawback psychologically.
4) THE CLIMATIC CONDITIONS
The Indian team has just returned from England where the climatic conditions were vastly different. Moreover, the scheduling of the matches have not been in India’s favour. They played their first match in the Asia Cup against Hong Kong and today, they play Pakistan. The back-to-back matches could not be avoided. To play two matches in this energy sapping heat isn’t easy.
5) THE CHAMPIONS TROPHY VICTORY & ASIA CUP RECORD
The two teams last met at The Champions Trophy which Pakistan won very convincingly. Ever since, they have had a psychological advantage over India. In Asia Cup, the two have played 11 matches. India has won five, Pakistan won five while one produced no result. So going by tournament record, they are equal. Today’s match will break the jinx.
6) TEAM STRENGTH
Babar Azam and Fakhar Zamam, followed by Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed and others have made Pakistan a strong team. All of them have groomed themselves well over the past few years. On the contrary India is better positioned in terms of spin. Since the surface in Dubai is likely to produce low scores, the spin attack will come into play and that’s where India has an advantage. Also, Hardik Pandya and Bumrah will be the players to watch out for.
At the end of the day, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and the better team wins on the day, but as of now, Pakistan looks much stronger.