Dubai, Aug 27: A captain with a new batting philosophy and a master batter standing at the crossroads, trying to reinvent himself, will aim to create a new narrative when India gets ready to settle scores with Pakistan in the marquee Asia Cup match here on Sunday.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been the two pillars of India’s white-ball team for the past decade but have received a rude jolt at this very venue 10 months back during the T20 World Cup, the duo exactly know where it stands and what it needs to do to turn the tables.
While Rohit will be eager to test his ultra-aggressive batting template against the Asian giants, for Kohli it will be the perfect platform to return to form after enduring a tough phase in the last few years.
There would be a bigger picture also and that is to set the core combination for the T20 World Cup in Australia in order by the end of this tournament.
With no bilateral contests between the cross-border neighbours for 10 years now and nothing on the anvil in near future, the geo-political tension does always make for a heady build-up.
But the lack of regular games means that Indo-Pak rivalries are rather held between unfamiliar foes rather than familiar ones.
One can’t plan a lot against an opposition whom a team plays once or twice a year, while one has to expect the unexpected.
In the last meeting, India played Pakistan, they didn’t have any idea how much Shaheen Shah Afridi had improved. The result was a 10-wicket defeat.
A lot was said after Afridi’s two-over opening spell send jitters in the Indian camp during the last T20 World Cup opener and India’s erstwhile team management did cop a lot of flak for its archaic batting approach in the shortest format of the game.
Questions were raised about whether the sameness in the top-order with three right-handers makes it easy for a good left-arm paceman to set the alarm bells ringing.
However on Sunday, there will be no Afridi (due to knee injury) to bend it back into the top three India right-handers but the fact remains that despite all the experimentations done by coach Rahul Dravid, the top-order remains exactly the same after that debacle in Dubai.
Rishabh Pant-Rohit pair showed a lot of promise with its gung-ho approach and Suryakumar Yadav at the top looked menacing with his all-round strokes.
Deepak Hooda, although against Ireland, was audacious as an opener but with Kohli and KL Rahul available, it will experience that will get first preference going into a high-profile game.
In the new set-up, KL Rahul is coming back up after surgery and COVD-19 related lay-off. He hasn’t played a single international T20 game in 2022.
In the case of Kohli, the number stands at four with a half-century against a sub-par West Indies attack.