DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — India won the toss and elected to field against archrival Pakistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday as Virat Kohli returned for his landmark 100th T20 international.
The focus will be on how well Kohli bats after taking a rest of more than six weeks from international cricket. Kohli is only the second player after Ross Taylor of New Zealand to have played 100 matches in all three formats.
However, the iconic Indian batter hasn’t scored a century for more than 1000 days and was rested for India’s last two tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
India preferred the power-hitting of Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant to accommodate Kohli upfront. Karthik had played some impressive knocks in the latter half of the innings in India’s recent T20s.
India also included fast bowlers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh to supplement experienced seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar as paceman Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel were both ruled out of the Asia Cup due to injuries.
Pakistan has happy memories at the Dubai International Stadium where it routed India by 10 wickets in last year’s T20 World Cup.
But Pakistan is also without its key paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is nursing a knee injury and has been advised to rest for 4-6 weeks.
In the absence of Afridi, Pakistan gave a debut to fast bowler Naseem Shah and also preferred Shahnawaz Dahani over fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain in the starting XI.
Pakistan and India are both in Group A, which also features Hong Kong. The top two teams from both groups qualify for the Super 4 stage.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh
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