India A will be keen to assert their dominance in the Emerging Asia Cup tournament when they face Pakistan A in a potentially high-voltage summit clash here on Sunday.
Generally, it is tough to pick a favorite in the 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 they have already beaten Pakistan in the league stage.
This crop of young Indian players carries a lot of flair in their approach, but beneath the flashiness bubbles a layer of stone-cold determination to win from any situation.
The semi-final against Bangladesh was a microcosm of that trait. India were 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 6 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 from then on, 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. They are a talented side, and many of their 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 all have tasted international cricket. While players such as Amad Butt and Omair Yousuf have been proven performers in the PSL.
Hence, Pakistan would like to treat the setback in the league phase as a mere aberration and would be eager for an act of atonement.
But, India will believe that they have all the cards to nullify Pakistan’s charge