India will finally play Pakistan again in an international match when they meet in Asia Cup T20 2016 Match 4 on Saturday. This will be the first time these two sides meet since India defeated Pakistan in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The arch-rivals were supposed to meet in a bilateral series late last year but political differences dictated terms once again and the series was called off. Virat Kohli was India’s star the last time around, scoring a century in India’s win. This time, it could be Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja’ chance to shine in the ever popular India vs Pakistan encounter.
Ashwin has been hands down India’s best bowler across formats over the last couple of years. Ashwin has been decent overseas, but in sub-continental conditions he has been unstoppable. What has really stood out about Ashwin has been his ability to make the ball obey his commands. Ashwin is most potent when the ball is spinning, not because he takes wickets with the turning ball but because he gets them with the balls that don’t spin as much.
Ashwin is a master at reading batsmen and fooling them in flight and drift. Pakistan tend to be good players of spin who might not be as easy to deceive, so Ashwin will have a challenge trying to dislodge them. That said, barring the likes of Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik, Pakistan do not have a lot of experience in the line-up.
If Ashwin is all about guile and skill, Jadeja is about unrelenting accuracy and un-hittable line and length. The reason Ashwin and Jadeja complement each other so well is that they can choke the batsmen in tandem but using different approaches.
Even when they don’t bowl in tandem, they are effective. Jadeja is excellent at tying down the opposition in the middle overs — he recently bowled as many as 20 dot balls (out of a 24-ball spell) in a T20I against Sri Lanka — while Ashwin has been exceptional with the new ball on occasion.
An India vs Pakistan match of any format is always thrilling. New heroes come up every time the two sides clash. It could be that this time the protagonist will be Hardik Pandya or Sharjeel Khan, Rohit Sharma or Sarfraz Ahmed, Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammad Sami. However, given the conditions and their current form, this time the protagonists could be Ashwin and Jadeja.