Asia Cup: India have strongest lineup since 2011 but Pakistan are very improved side, says Ravi Shastri

Former India cricketer and ex-head coach Ravi Shastri shares his insights on the upcoming Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan.

Former India cricketer and head coach Ravi Shastri thinks Rohit Sharma’s team will prevail over Pakistan in the forthcoming Asia Cup match. He did admit, though, that the Babar Azam-led team has recently “closed the gap” with the Indian team and improved tremendously.

In the third game of the competition on Saturday at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka, India will face off against arch-rival Pakistan.

On the eve of the game, Shastri told ESPNcricinfo that Rohit Sharma’s experience as captain and India’s greatest squad since 2011 will be a huge benefit for the team.


“I would say India start as favourites. This is their strongest team since 2011, this mix of players. And a captain who is seasoned, who understands the terrain better than most.

“Having said that, Pakistan have narrowed the gap. Seven-eight years [ago], there was a gap if you looked at the strength of both teams and man to man. But Pakistan have narrowed it down. They are a very good side, so you have to be on top of your game,” Shastri said.

In high-stakes matches like India vs. Pakistan, Shastri believes that a player’s temperament matters more than their current form since it is what really makes the difference.

“That’s what’s important, keeping calm and treating it as just another game. And not overhype it in your mind that makes you think differently. Your game has to be the same as it would be in any other game. But because of that subconscious pressure, it’s the mentally tough guys who normally get it right.

“When you look at the mix of players on either side, they are fabulous. And it will be a spectacle. In an India-Pakistan game, it is about who handles pressure better, who is calmer, whose thought process is clear. Those are the guys who will come through in those big occasions,” he said.

Shastri thinks that any batter who wants to succeed in matches under extreme pressure should emulate Babar Azam’s strategy.

He (Babar) converts those 30s and 40s starts into hundreds,” Shastri pointed out. “And it is so important. We keep saying to go out there and face a number of balls, but if one of your top three gets a hundred, you get 300-plus.”

The former coach went on to emphasize the significance of competing in the major competitions by pointing to Sri Lanka’s recent Asia Cup championship win.

“Fielding will be crucial too, you’ll have to see which team fields better. Sri Lanka won the last Asia Cup on (the back of their) fielding. They’ve long been the best fielding side in the subcontinent, right from 1996. They were outstanding in the last Asia Cup. They are holders, let’s not forget, so don’t discount them in Sri Lankan conditions. If India’s fielding raises their bar, then they’ll be an even stronger side,” Shastri concluded.


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