Asia Cup 2018: India vs Pakistan to be the marquee match of the event

Sep 15, 2018, 14:10 IST | Santosh Suri

That's primarily because the cricketing rivals have not played a bilateral series for a long time and it's only during such championships, be it World Cup, Champions Trophy or Asia Cup, that they come face to face as hostile relations between the two

Asia Cup 2018: India vs Pakistan to be the marquee match of the event
Indian captain Rohit Sharma (left) with Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed during a press conference ahead of the Asia Cup yesterday. Pic/AFP

Whether the other four contenders like it or not, the 14th edition of the Asia Cup, beginning in the UAE today, is all about India and Pakistan. That's primarily because the cricketing rivals have not played a bilateral series for a long time and it's only during such championships, be it World Cup, Champions Trophy or Asia Cup, that they come face to face as hostile relations between the two countries prevent them from playing each other in bilateral contests.

Making the most of the opportunity, the Asia Cup organisers have ensured that the two rivals meet at least twice in the 14-day tournament. On September 19, they play at the Dubai stadium in a Group A match, and with weak qualifiers, Hong Kong, in their three-team group, it is almost certain that the two will make the Super Four grade and clash again on September 23 at the same venue.

Teams like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who play in the opening game today, and Afghanistan, who complete Group B, at the most can aspire to spoil the party and prevent the two rivals from clashing for a third time in the final on September 28.

Over a year ago, India and Pakistan had faced each other in the Champions Trophy, with India winning the league match at Edgbaston, and Pakistan stunning the rivals in the final at the Oval. With Bangladesh, who have appeared in two of the last three finals, and Afghanistan improving by leaps and bounds, one cannot assume that it is only about India and Pakistan, though surely the focus will be entirely on these two teams.

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