For winning a cricket match, especially a T20I match, it is vital that a team's top order gives the right type of start, filled with required intent and caution.
India's current top order, consisting of KL Rahul, captain Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli is amongst the most feared ones in the entire world. On their day, they can annihilate any bowling attack, hit any line, length or variation for some delightful fours and sixes.
However, their experiences and statistics as top-order batters against Pakistan in T20Is are quite different from each other. Let us have a look at how they have fared against Pakistan in T20Is.
Virat Kohli: If we consider Indian batters' statistics against Pakistan in T20Is, this brilliant right-hander is a giant among men. He is the highest scorer for India against Pakistan in T20Is.
He has scored 346 runs across eight innings in eight matches at an average of 69.20. Three half-centuries have come out of this star batter's willow. His highest individual score against Pakistan in T20Is is 78*, which is also the highest score by an Indian against their arch-rival in the shortest format.
Rohit Sharma: This attacking right-hander hander has emerged as one of India's greatest batters ever since he started opening in 2013. He is also the highest run-scorer in the history of T20I cricket, having scored 3,520 runs in 134 matches with four centuries and 27 half-centuries.
However, his record against Pakistan in 20-over-format is less than ordinary. In nine games, across eight innings, Rohit has managed to score only 82 runs at a paltry average of 13.66. Not even a single half-century has come out of his bat against Pakistan, with his best individual score being an unbeaten 30* made back in 2007 during ICC T20 World Cup.
KL Rahul: KL has played the least amount of T20I cricket against Pakistan than the aforementioned senior batters, having played only 2 matches.
In both of his innings, his stay at the crease was not too long as he was dismissed in first over itself. Across these two innings, he has scored only three runs at an average of 1.50 and his best individual score is 3.
Looking at these numbers, it is really clear that Rohit and KL need to do better and their abilities are way better than the statistics they have put on the board. In their previous clash against the arch-rivals last Sunday, they could manage 12 and 0 respectively.
Rohit and KL's numbers against Pakistan across all formats are better. Rohit has scored 802 runs in 25 matches against Pakistan with two hundreds and six fifties and a healthy average in 40s. His best individual score against Pakistan is 140.
KL Rahul also has a half-century in the only ODI match he has played against Pakistan.
Both KL and Rohit have not shown their best form in Asia Cup 2022 so far, having scored 0 and a sluggish 36 and 12 and 21 respectively in their two matches.
Virat, on the other hand, has a top-notch T20I record against Pakistan which showcases his ability and hunger to deliver in big matches. He scored 35 off 34 balls in the last clash Team India had with Pakistan the previous week.
But he has been battling a lot of criticism this year due to his lack of form.
Virat has gone over 1,000 days without an international century and fans are anticipating his 71st international ton heavily, having represented India in 70 matches since his previous ton in November 2019. Across these matches, he has scored 2,648 runs at an average of 34.84. He has hit 25 half-centuries across all formats since the last time he reached triple digits.
2022 has been challenging for Virat.
This year, Virat has played six T20Is and has scored 175 runs at an average of 35.00. His best score in the format this year is 59* and two half-centuries have come out of his bat.
Across all formats this year, Virat has played in 18 matches and across 21 innings, he has scored 570 runs at an average of 28.50. His best individual score is 79 this year and five half-centuries have come out of his bat.
Since the emergence of T20Is, Kohli is India's third-highest run-getter against Pakistan across all formats. He has scored 882 runs in 21 innings across 21 matches at an average of 55.12. Two centuries and five half-centuries have come out of his bat against Pakistan. His best individual score against the arch-rivals is 183.
In the ongoing Asia Cup so far, he has shown glimpses of 'King Kohli' that fans love dearly. With 94 runs in two innings which include an unbeaten 59* against Hong Kong, he is among the top five run scorers in the tournament so far.
Pakistan's bowling attack has been brilliant in Asia Cup so far. Pacer Naseem Shah has done a great job in filling the shoes of spearhead Shaheen Afridi while spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan are among the best bowlers in the tournament so far.
Pakistanis bundled out Hong Kong for just 38 runs and registered a 155-run win against them. So a huge challenge is in front of the Indian top order to be at the peak of their powers today.
But on the other hand, Pakistan bowlers should not let the past/current form of India's big three serve as a distraction. They should bowl their hearts out against a trio that can destroy them with ease on a given day.
India will take on Pakistan for the second time in a span of 10 days, as they begin their campaign in the Super-four of the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Both teams will look to make a winning start to their Super four campaign. India will look to continue their winning spree in the tournament with wins over Pakistan and Hong Kong in their previous matches. Meanwhile, Pakistan will be wary of the good record of India against them in the last five T20Is. India have secured wins in the last four matches of the five played between the two sides.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Hasan Ali, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain.