|India Vs Pakistan|
Venue :4th Match, Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium (D/N)
India play Pakistan in the fourth game of the Asia Cup at Dambulla. The Indians had made mincemeat of Bangladesh in the first game of the tournament, whereas Pakistan had lost a narrow game to Sri Lanka first up, after they had batted second, under the lights and yet, almost chased down the target.
India's heroes in the first game were Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. While Gambhir smashed an 80 to guide his side to the win, Sehwag's performances came with the ball, as he scalped figures of 4/6 in 17 balls to end the Bangladeshi resistance.
For Pakistan, the previous game had seen the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi bowl and bat rather well but failing to achieve the win. Akhtar returned back to international cricket with a three wicket haul and ensured that the side would benefit from his return as the Lankans were throttled thanks to that. at the other end, Afridi's century was one of the best in the business, but his untimely cramping meant that the side was in deep trouble by the time he was sent back.
India, on the other hand, showed signs of rustiness in the early part of the game when they bowled, but came back well to overcome the Bangladeshi batsmen. However, they will need to be careful of the manner in which they bowl, as the stronger teams in Sri Lanka and Pakistan will not spare the Indian bowlers as lightly as the Bangladeshis did.
Against Pakistan, it will be interesting to see whether the Indians try out something different if they bowl first. Zaheer and co. did not seem to be getting much help from the wicket in the early part of the Bangladesh game, but it must also be said that they lacked rhythm.
The good thing from India's point of view is that Zaheer Khan usually gets better as he bowls more and more, and one can expect him to make a comeback against Pakistan. Praveen Kumar did swing the ball around, but it was, rather surprisingly, the spinners who did well.The battle to look forward to will be the one between Harbhajan Singh and Shahid Afridi, both of whom would love to have a go against each other. Afridi had already shown that he can take on Muralitharan, and he will look to do the same against Bhajji as well. It remains to be seen how well Harbhajan and India respond to that onslaught.