India A will be keen to assert its dominance in the Emerging Asia Cup tournament when it faces Pakistan A in a potentially high-voltage summit clash here on Sunday.
Generally, it is tough to pick a favourite in matches between India and Pakistan, but in this instance, the former stands out as the clear front-runner.
India will also draw confidence from the fact that it has already beaten Pakistan in the league stage.
This crop of young Indian players carries a lot of flair in its approach, but beneath the flashiness bubbles a layer of stone-cold determination to win from any situation.
The semifinal against Bangladesh was a microcosm of that trait. India was bundled out for 211, a below-par total even on a sluggish R. Premadasa Stadium pitch.
The Bangladesh openers, who were in good touch in this tournament, started briskly, scoring over six runs an over. They raced to 94 for 1 in the 18th over, and looked poised for a smooth win.
But the Indian spinners - Nishant Sindhu and Manav Suthar - owned the stage thereafter, rolling over Bangladesh for 160. The captaincy of Yash Dhull, who also made a crucial 66, and the fielding too were spot on as India snatched a win that looked improbable at one stage.
This cohesion within the team will be India’s primary weapon going into the final against Pakistan.
Having said that, underestimating Pakistan will be naïve. It is a talented side, and many of its players have considerable international and Pakistan Super League (PSL) experience behind them.
All-rounder Mohammad Wasim, captain Mohammad Harris, opener Sahibzada Farhan and pacer Arshad Iqbal have tasted international cricket. Meanwhile, players such as Amad Butt and Omair Yousuf are proven performers in the PSL.
But India will believe that it has all the cards to nullify Pakistan’s charge.
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