New Delhi : Former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris is of the opinion that breaking Pakistan’s opening partnership and forcing their middle order to do which they won’t be wishing to do will be the key for India to upstage their arch-rivals in the marquee clash on August 28.
Sunday’s clash at Dubai will see the resumption of ‘greatest rivalry’ in the world of cricket when India and Pakistan open their Asia Cup Group A campaign. This will also be the first meeting between these two teams after facing off in the Men’s T20 World Cup last year in the UAE, where Pakistan secured a resounding ten-wicket victory over India, their first such victory in Men’s World Cups.
“So if you were to just look at the side, they rely so heavily on this man here, Mohammad Rizwan along with Babar Azam, because if they get them off to a start, there’s a lot of power hitting to come. So therefore, they will look to provide the base and then Fakhar Zaman of this world with all that power that left-handed sort of variety as well.”
“I think coming in and maybe looking to attack the spinners in particular, I think could work in Pakistan’s favour. So India’s key is to break that opening partnership, make those middle order players for Pakistan do what they don’t want to do and that’s actually at the back rather than walk out there and hit,” said Styris on ‘Sports Over The Top’ show on Sports18.
Asked about the top order of Rizwan, captain Azam and Zaman would fare in the match against India, Styris felt the stability there is working for them. “They should always be concerned about this top order, but the difference is this is probably one of the least unpredictable.”
“Does that make them the most predictable teams that I can remember for Pakistan? Because I think that they’ve embraced a culture of how they want to play the game and I think it’s worked for them, whereas India I think still searching a little bit.”
Though Pakistan’s strength well and truly lies in their top order of Rizwan, Azam and Zaman, there aren’t much experienced hands in the middle as well as the lower order to do accelerate and play the finisher’s role. Styris admitted that Pakistan’s batting order after top three is a grey area despite the side having skillful cricketers in their ranks.
“Oh 100 percent. Look let’s be clear. You don’t play at this level if you’re not a great player and yes there’s a grey area on what grade it is. But these players are terrific cricketers who all on their day and they’re all young and they’re coming through and some of them are a little bit inexperienced. You’ve got all those varieties to what their game is at the moment. However, there is plenty of skill there.”
“So, India with their injuries they’ve got at the top and especially the reliability on Bumrah in terms of the ball then you’re under a bit more pressure with other players with ball in hand. So, I’d be a little wary of this Pakistan closing ability. Especially if they can get that down to say number 8 in their batting order which allows them to continually play with freedom.”