The last time these two sides met was in the ICC Champions Trophy final on June 18, 2017, at the Oval in London and India would like to forget that one in a hurry.
Pakistan scored what eventually was an insurmountable 338/4 with Fakhar Zaman chipping in with a fine century. India then faced some superb fast bowling from Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali and were also done in by Shadab Khan’s leg-spin and the contest never got off the ground.
India, needless to say, would love to put that loss to rest and post a win but that would be easier said than done. Pakistan have emerged as one of the best-rounded limited-over teams in the business and India will have their task cut out.
More so in the absence of Virat Kohli. Although Kohli is not necessarily the best captain in the business, his presence alone can make quite a difference. Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma is one of the best in the business when it comes to limited-overs cricket but his support line-up is always a little fragile.
Most of all, it is the occasion that is important. Cricket fans in both nations are not prepared to take a loss from the neighbours, and that is where it becomes such a big thing.
Another key issue will be how India recover from their first match with Hong Kong. The weather in Dubai is not the most conducive for playing on two successive days and this may well come into effect, as Pakistan have had a day’s rest post their win over Hong Kong.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Dinesh Karthik, Khaleel Ahmed.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir.