New Delhi: The Asia Cup is a disguise really, for a batch of India-Pakistan matches. The rest of the matches are like the cards for a big-prize title fight – no one really cares who wins or loses. All that matter is how India fare against Pakistan in their matches and, it the already frantic hype on the broadcasters’ social media handles is anything to go by, India have got this one sewn up. A little strange, given how they fared the last time the two teams met, but who cares, so long the hype generates eyeballs by the millions as the rights holders try to recover some of the insane amount they have had to pay the Indian cricket board for the licence to telecast.Also Read – Virat Kohli Starts Training Ahead of Asia Cup 2022; Video Goes VIRAL | WATCH
As things stand, Instagram posts make a fascinating reading – how India bowled out Pakistan for 83, their lowest T20I total, in 2016, or how KL Rahul’s half-century in Dubai off 18 deliveries is the second-faster fifty T20 by an Indian (with a footnote of how many more he’ll score in 2022). Another interesting one compares the stats of Suryakumar Yadav with Mohammad Rizwan (a head-to-head of sorts). All of these are India-Pakistan, needless to say. The other bit players don’t matter. Also Read – ‘Virat Kohli’s Numbers Have Been Underwhelming’ – Aakash Chopra Ahead of Asia Cup
Now, let’s take a real look at the Indian side. For starters, their bowling lynchpin Jasprit Bumrah is missing, as is Harshal Patel, who can be useful. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the support of the raw Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan, with Hardik Pandya to add his bit. As for the batters, back come Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. To be brutally frank, this is more because of name instead of performance, not to mention that both are likely candidates for the T20 World Cup squad and need to get match fit. Kohli has an average of barely over 20 in this format this year, while Rahul’s fitness, irrespective of his selection, is something that will only be found out once he plays. Also Read – Shubman Gill on Critics Ahead of Zimbabwe Tour, Claims ‘I Don’t Really Care’
The thing to note is that these two will be at the critical spots in the batting line-up. If Rahul opens, he won’t be forgetful of that fiery spell from Shaheen Shah Afridi, the last time he played Pakistan. Nor will Sharma, for that matter. Kohli wants to get back to the form and average that made him one of the best in the business, but things are not in his favour. If he does, brilliant. If he doesn’t, then more questions than answers will be up in the air.
Not too long ago, when India were playing Australia in the Commonwealth Games hockey final, the broadcasters had conjured up some very “Chak De India’ type songs in their promos ahead of the game. The result ended up being a 7-1 drubbing.
So, all concerned with be well served to tone down on the hype, since the reality isn’t half as reassuring. But one assumes this is how and India-Pakistan contest is sold, so we’ll just have to weather the storm.