Asia Cup 2014: All Eyes on India, Pakistan Showdown; Full Schedule
By Shruthi SU | February 23, 2014 8:34 PM EST
Two nations are eagerly waiting for Sunday, 2 March, as India and Pakistan take on one another in Dhaka in the Asia Cup 2014. Meanwhile, the tournament opener is scheduled for Tuesday, 25 February, with Pakistan facing Sri Lanka in Fatullah.
The heat on the political front has got into cricket as well, with India and Pakistan facing each other rather very rarely. India have played Pakistan in only five ODIs and three T20s since the World Cup semifinal in 2011.
"We may not have played each other much recently, but I know it will be an exciting match," Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.
"It's always a big challenge playing against India because there is so much interest in the game. India are a formidable side and we have to be at our best to win."
However, several star performers, who usually feature in the epic India-Pakistan face-offs, will miss out the match this time. Pakistan's Tamim Iqbal will miss the action, and so will Indian captain MS Dhoni, thanks to a side strain. Misbah feels India will miss their captain, despite Dhoni's growing reputation of being a defensive captain. Virat Kohli will replace Dhoni as skipper, while Dinesh Karthik will replace him behind the wickets.
"They will miss his experience and captaincy but Virat Kohli is a suitable replacement and India remains a strong challenge in the tournament."
"But India apart, I say again and again that all the teams in the Asia Cup remain strong challengers for the title."
Pakistan come into the championship with two back-to-back series wins over South Africa and Sri Lanka.
"Pakistan obviously goes into the competition with a winning momentum and having won the one-day series against South Africa and Sri Lanka we are confident that we can also beat India."
The captain's thoughts were reflected by Pakistan's bowling coach Mohammad Akram.
"Even Afghanistan can't be taken lightly in the Asia Cup and it is a competition that any team can win. All the teams are tough customers in tough conditions but obviously the India match will be important. But the way our bowlers have been bowling in recent times I am confident we can do well.
"I will give you an interesting fact," he went on. "In the 2200 overs we have bowled in Test and ODIs in last one and half years, our bowlers have just sent down four no-balls."
Akram seemed confident about his team's performance and insisted on a rotation policy for bowlers.
"If I am not wrong, only five times a team has crossed 300 against us in these conditions."
"I have spoken to the two captains about having a rotation policy for the bowlers. With Muhammad Talha joining us and Umar Gul returning to the team, I think we have the back up to adopt a rotation policy."
Asia Cup Full Schedule
February 25: Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Fatullah
February 26: Bangladesh v India, Fatullah
February 27: Afghanistan v Pakistan, Fatullah
February 28: India v Sri Lanka, Fatullah
March 1: Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Fatullah
March 2: India v Pakistan, Dhaka
March 3: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, Dhaka
March 4: Bangladesh v Pakistan, Dhaka
March 5: Afghanistan v India, Dhaka
March 6: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Dhaka
March 8: Final, Dhaka
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