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Asia Cup 2023, IND vs PAK: Who will prevail in battle between India's batters & Pakistan pace trio

Asia Cup 2023: How will Indian batters tackle Pakistan’s pace battery? Checkout the performances by India batters against left arm and right arm pacers since 2019.

Asia Cup 2023: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are important for India against Pakistan clash (Images: ©BCCI/Twiiter)
A lot depends on Rohit & Virat against Pakistan clash (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Whenever a left arm pacer comes on to ball, there is not only a sense of fear among the Indian batters but one can also sense the panic among Indian fans. The same sorry story has been continuing for a long time, and it becomes ghastlier when the bowling attack is from Pakistan.


India’s scary moments against left-arm pace bowling

Watching a left-arm pacer swinging the ball back into the right-handed batter is one of the most satisfying things in cricket. But the feeling of joy evaporates when your team is struggling on the pitch against lethal deliveries. It has not been a once in a blue moon kind of situation for the Indian team, and the opposition knows it too well.


When it comes to playing poorly against the left-arm pace attack, India stays at top firmly as the mind goes back to Mustafizur Rahman’s debut series against India in 2015, where he bagged 13 wickets in just three ODIs. Mohammad Amir’s excellent show during the ICC Champions Trophy Final 2017 or Trent Boult dismissing India’s top order in the all-important semifinal of ICC ODI World Cup 2019 also haunts India’s players and fans.



Dreadful scenes against Pakistan pacers in recent times

When it comes to playing against arch-rivals Pakistan, the image of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s in-swinging yorker trapping Rohit Sharma plumb before the stumps has been plastered in the minds of fans. There is also the sorry image of Afridi’s fast delivery nipping back to disturb the furniture of KL Rahul during the ICC T20 World Cup 2021.


Playing in the Asia Cup 2023 means that Pakistan’s opposition will be peppered with not only the left-arm pace of Afridi but also the aggressive thunder bolt pace of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.


One still remembers the 2022 Asia Cup where KL Rahul got an inside edge onto his stumps to Naseem who later also blew away the stumps of Suryakumar Yadav with a perfect yorker.


And then there was the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup where Haris’ pace destroyed the Indian batting lineup. First his ripper went up the defense of Rohit, and later a short of length delivery zipped through the track to hurry onto Suryakumar who ended up giving a nick to the wicket-keeper.


So, every Pakistan pacer has performed well against India on three different occasions; what if the day comes when all of them find the rhythm together?



The different qualities of Afridi, Rauf and Naseem

When it comes to Afridi, he nips the ball both away and into the right handers, zips it into the leftie, and manages to beat the batters ball after ball. If there is a first over one doesn’t want to miss in world cricket, he is most often the one bowling.


Since the start of 2021, Afridi has picked up 33 ODI wickets in 18 innings at an average of 25.06 and economy of 5.58. Out of these, 13 wickets have come during the first 10 overs of the innings - at an average of 29.07 and economy of 4.84.


Naseem is a bit different; he doesn’t have either Afridi’s height or his records but he possesses the smoothest of bowling actions. In fact he races to the crease, and the end his back unloads like a propeller, releasing the ball with sheer delight.


Since January 2021, Naseem has pocketed 26 wickets in 11 ODI innings at an average of just 16.15 - out of which nine wickets have come during the powerplay at an average of 20.22 and an excellent economy rate of 3.95.


Haris has pace and he bowls at 90 mph without sweating. One can tell from his fast run up that he approaches the batter with an ironclad expression. At the end, the batter is more often than not able to just smell the leather as the ball whizzes past.


From 2021 onwards, Haris has 45 ODI scalps in 23 innings at an average of 24.37 - but because he doesn’t get to bowl often in the first 10 overs, he has just nine wickets at an average of 30.33. His specialty comes in handy during the middle and death overs. He has 22 wickets at an average of 13.50 and an economy of 6.98 during the death overs, and 14 wickets at an average of 37.64 and economy of 5.96 in the middle overs - which gives stability to the Pakistan bowling attack.

ICC T20 WC 2021 - Super 12 - IND vs PAK_ Pakistan break jinx against India in World Cups; win in 13th attempt (©GettyImages)
Pakistan break jinx against India in World Cups; win in 13th attempt (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)
What can help the India batters improve

In the videos released by BCCI earlier, it was seen that India batters had been practicing against left-arm pacer Aniket Chaudhury in Alur to get accustomed to Afridi’s style. But how much will it help?


Afridi’s pace is more than Aniket’s and it makes it more difficult for any batter. If the need was to get used to left-hander’s style, they could have used the more experienced Arshdeep Singh or Yash Dayal - who has performed well in the Indian Premier League (IPL) too. Also, for tackling the breakneck speed of Naseem and Haris, no one would be a better option than Umran Malik.



A comparison of performances by India batters against left arm and right arm pacers since 2019:

India batters against Right Arm pacers

Batter

Inns

Runs

Ave

SR

Out

Rohit Sharma

45

1278

44.1

96.70

29

Virat Kohli

53

1363

47.0

99.9

29

Shreyas Iyer

32

746

37.3

91.50

20

Shubman Gill

26

846

52.9

102.1

16

Suryakumar Yadav

20

267

29.7

95.40

09

Hardik Pandya

29

620

38.8

112.1

16


India batters against Left Arm pacers

Batter

Inns

Runs

Ave

SR

Out

Rohit Sharma

33

430

53.8

86.0

08

Virat Kohli

27

274

30.4

99.60

09

Shreyas Iyer

13

117

58.5

101.7

02

Shubman Gill

11

138

46.0

100.7

03

Suryakumar Yadav

05

17

5.70

81.0

03

Hardik Pandya

18

124

24.8

118.1

05

Practice always polishes the skill, but it’s also important to keep the pace in mind. The extra 5-10 kmph speed, coupled with the swing, makes it really tough for the batters.


Given there is sufficient time in ODI encounters, the Indian top order should play a little cautiously at the start against the new ball, before they begin playing the aggressive brand of cricket. Running between the wickets will be another vital key point for the batters to not let the bowlers settle down.


Both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are good against pace attack but it’s the early dose of the new ball that they need to take care of to build a stable innings for the team.


The exciting clash between India and Pakistan will take place on September 2 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.


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