The rivalry between India and Pakistan is one of cricket’s biggest and all eyes will be on Dubai on August 28 when the two contenders go head-to-head. File/AFP
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Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting believes that India have better depth than the other teams and they are favourites to win the 2022 Asia Cup, adding that the Rohit Sharma led side will beat arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening match of the tournament.
The rivalry between India and Pakistan is one of cricket’s biggest and all eyes will be on Dubai on August 28 when the two contenders go head-to-head. While Pakistan hold the edge overall in head-to-head meetings, it’s a different story at the Asia Cup with India currently clinging to a slender 7-5 advantage (one no result) from 13 matches.
While Ponting expects a tight tussle between the rivals, he believes India have the depth to prevail.
“I’ll stick with India to win that clash (August 28 match) against Pakistan.That’s taking nothing away from Pakistan because they are an incredible cricket nation that continue to present out-and-out superstar players,” Ponting said in the latest episode of The ICC Review.
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The Australian legend also mentioned that India are tough opponents to beat in any tournament, not just an Asia Cup.
“It’s always hard to go past India in any tournament, not just an Asia Cup, but I think every time we talk about the T20 World Cup which is coming up, I think that India will be right in the thick of it there,” Ponting said.
“Their depth is definitely better than the other teams and I think India will win the Asia Cup,” he added.
Virat Kohli (left) and Babar Azam
The 47-year-old has seen many of India’s T20I stars during his time coaching in the IPL and has kept an eye on how they are preparing ahead of the T20 World Cup.
India have won 17 of their 21 T20I matches this calendar year despite heavy rotation of players by Rahul Dravid and the selection panel. One absentee despite the changes is fast-bowler Mohammed Shami, who has not featured for India in T20I cricket since the last T20 World Cup.
Time looks to be running out for the veteran pacer to make an impact in Australia, having also been left out of the Asia Cup squad. While acknowledging the shortest format is Shami’s weakest, Ponting stresses the 31-year-old could certainly do a job should he make the squad.
“He’s been a very, very good bowler for India for a long time now. If you look at his strengths, his Test cricket is probably where he thrives the most. I think there are better fast bowlers in Indian T20 cricket than Shami and they’ve only named three (for the Asia Cup). So if there’s potentially four named in the squad he might be the fourth man in,” he said.
“I would think they’ll probably only have the four quicks coming to Australia. They’ll still want to bring a lot of spin here even though the wickets are probably not that conducive,” he added.
Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting speaks during a meeting. File photo
Ponting also feels that the pinnacle of Test match cricket will be actual rivalry between India and Pakistan as Ashes is for England and Australia.
Ponting played in a lot of big matches at major tournaments during his career, with the rivalry between Australia and England during the Ashes the greatest he experienced. He relished the extra demands that went with those clashes.
“To be totally honest it’s one that we’ve been starved of, haven’t we are looking back at the last 15 or 20 years,” Ponting said.
“As a cricket lover like I am and a cricket observer, any time those sorts of battles come up it’s almost always nice to sit back and watch because everything just goes up a notch, doesn’t it?” he added.
Notably, India and Pakistan haven’t played each other at Test level since they fought out a high-scoring draw in Bengaluru in 2007, with Sourav Ganguly’s 239 making headlines.
There is still an outside chance the two nations could meet again in the final of the ICC World Test Championship next year and Ponting would love to see the rivalry grow even further with the addition of more red-ball cricket.