Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, is brimming with confidence as his team gears up to face arch-rivals India in a crucial Asia Cup Super 4 encounter in Colombo. Babar Azam firmly believes that Pakistan’s familiarity with Sri Lankan conditions could give them a significant edge in this high-stakes clash. A multitude of Pakistani players have been actively engaged in Sri Lanka, gaining invaluable experience in the local conditions. This includes their participation in the Test series held in July, their involvement in the Lanka Premier League, and bilateral ODIs against Afghanistan. Such exposure has allowed Pakistan to acclimatize to Sri Lankan pitches, weather, and the nuances of playing cricket in the island nation.
Rain-Forced Disruptions Haunt India
In contrast, India has faced rain-forced disruptions in their Asia Cup matches played in Sri Lanka. Their opening match against Pakistan in Pallekele witnessed only one innings before rain intervened, with India posting a competitive total of 266. Unfortunately, the game could not resume due to the inclement weather.
The same venue witnessed another rain-induced interruption as India’s second Super 4 match against an unspecified opponent led to a revised target in 23 overs. Remarkably, India successfully chased the target with all wickets intact, but these rain interruptions have left questions about their adaptability in challenging conditions.
Babar Azam’s Confidence Boost
Babar Azam’s confidence stems from the recent months of experience that Pakistan has accumulated playing in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In a pre-match press conference, he remarked, “Given the continuous cricket we are playing both in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, you can say that we hold an edge (over India). We have been playing here in Sri Lanka for the past two months or so. We have played Tests, we played a series against Afghanistan and then the LPL… So it can be said that we have an advantage.”
Rain Threat Looms in Colombo
Despite their confidence, Pakistan faces the looming threat of rain during their Super 4 matches, all set to take place in Colombo. The Asian Cricket Council has already confirmed a reserve day for the India vs. Pakistan clash on September 10, owing to a concerning 90% precipitation forecast for that day.
Managing the Rigorous Schedule
Pakistan’s preparation for the Asia Cup has involved extensive travel, with the team shuttling between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Babar Azam acknowledges the challenges but emphasizes that it can’t be used as an excuse. The team was well aware of the schedule well in advance and has meticulously planned to ensure players’ well-being. “We always knew the schedule and how much we have to travel. So, it’s become important how we look after our players. We have planned everything well,” Babar Azam affirmed.
In the battle for supremacy in the Asia Cup Super 4 stage, Pakistan’s confidence and familiarity with Sri Lankan conditions may prove to be decisive factors. However, they must also navigate the unpredictable weather and ensure their players remain fit and focused amidst the rigorous schedule. As cricket fans eagerly anticipate the India vs. Pakistan clash, all eyes will be on Babar Azam and his team as they aim to conquer their formidable opponents on foreign soil.