Salman Farrukh

Pakistan will meet arch-rivals India in the historic series beginning from 25th of December. It will be the first bilateral series between the old foes in five years since India last hosted Pakistan in 2007. Tour Itinerary comprises of two T20s and three one day internationals. Pakistan-India encounters have always been different as rivalry is more than six decades old. These matches bring the two nations to almost a stand still and interest in the matches will be at fever pitch across the region.

Pakistan have made six changes to their T20 squad that went to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty 20. Same number of changes has also been made in ODI team which lost to Australia 2-1 in UAE in August-September.

Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat and Imran Nazir were axed from the T20 squad while Asad Shafiq and Raza Hassan were not included because of their injuries. Fast bowler Junaid Khan, who was surprisingly left out of the World T20 squad has made an apt comeback and will play the key role of death bowler. Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Amin and M Irfan have also made a comeback. Asad Ali and Zulfiqar Babar are the other inclusions.

Pakistan’s ODI team is also a mixture of youth and experience. Big news was the expulsion of Boom Boom Afridi from ODI squad but it was long due as trail of his failures were not coming to halt so it was a right time to give him a wakeup call. Other players excluded from the squad that went to UAE were Abdur Rehman, Aizaz Cheema, Sohail Tanvir and Shoaib Malik. Younus Khan and Umar Gul have made a comeback along with Wahab Riaz while Zulfiqar Babar and Harris Sohail have earned maiden call ups to the national team.

All eyes will be on the spin trio of Pakistan (Ajmal, Afridi & Hafeez) to strangle the strong Indian batting. Saeed Ajmal will be the trump card for the Pakistan and his heroics can help Pakistan seal the victory. Pakistan’s batting, which has shown its fragility in recent past, will be tested. Pakistan’s batting needs to cope with the pressure situations. As when pressure intensifies, Pakistan’s batting flounders. A lot will depend on senior Pro’s (Misbah, Younis and Hafeez). Nasir Jamshed has been in tremendous batting form. We hope he will continue this impressive run. Akmal brothers will provide the flair but whole nation will pray that Kamran Akmal will hold on to the catches.

However Pakistan must comply with the advice of recently appointed batting consultant, legend batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq that Pakistan should play aggressive cricket. Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore is also very excited on the eve of the series. Whatmore said: “It's a privilege to be involved in series like this. I've been involved in the odd match at ICC events and Asian Cricket Council events, but this will be first time we'll play more that two or three times in a small series.” Though, Whatmore refused the notion that Pakistan will be complacent after recent defeat of India from England.

Indians strength lies in their batting. Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli all can win a match on their day but Indian weakness is their bowling which Pakistan can exploit. Moreover Indians will be under pressure after their recent Test series loss to England but they will have the home ground advantage. However, If Pakistan play to their full potential, we have the capacity to go all the way and win both ODI and T20 series.