Asia Cup: India, Pakistan kick off campaign in Dubai

The teams’ Asia Cup opener on Sunday will take the heat a notch up, given that it will take place at Dubai cricket stadium, where the temperature recently touched the 46C (114.8F) mark.

Given the political situation between the neighbours, the two sides have not played a bilateral series since 2012 and Sunday’s match is the first time they meet since October last year. The last time they faced off in a Test series was 2007.

Matches between the two ignite great fervour but have also defused military tensions between the two nations, which have fought four wars since independence from the British rule in 1947.

Recently pictures and videos of Pakistan captain Babar Azam and India superstar Virat Kohli meeting on the sidelines of a practice session in Dubai went viral.

India and Pakistan have played nine T20s with the former winning seven, including the World T20 final in 2007.

This is the sides’ first meeting since the T20 World Cup match in Dubai last year when Pakistan romped home by 10 wickets, the side’s first win over India in any World Cup match.

How many times will these sides meet in the Asia Cup?

Potentially three.

In addition to Sunday’s match, India and Pakistan could meet again in the Super Four and, if the fans and organisers are lucky enough, a blockbuster final awaits.

Will all eyes be on Kohli?

Well, kind of.

The former captain has played just four of India’s last 24 T20s. He has failed to reach the three-figure mark in international cricket since 2019, a run of more than 1,000 days.

He said that the run drought had affected his well-being and that he had been faking intensity to demonstrate that everything was fine.

“For the first time in 10 years, I have not touched a bat in a month,” Kohli said on Star Sports. “I came to the realisation that I was kind of trying to fake my intensity a bit, recently.

“You are convincing yourself, ‘No, I have the intensity.’ But your body is telling you to stop. Your mind’s telling you to take a break and step back.”

Kohli remains the highest scorer in India-Pakistan T20 matches with 311.

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