Asia Cup 2018: VVS Laxman believes Shoaib Malik can be the game changer in Ind-Pak game
What's the story?
After the England debacle, India's next assignment is the upcoming Asia Cup. Undoubtedly, the most hotly contested encounter would be the India-Pakistan game, given the history and intensity of the two sides' on-field rivalry.
Ahead of the game, former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman have already given an indication that according to him, it would be Shoaib Malik who will influence the game for Pakistan greater than any other player.
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Pakistan has some sort of an upper hand over India, as Virat Kohli who is one of India's strongest performers against Pakistan (and other teams as well) has been rested after the England series. The UAE factor will also play a role as the venues are like home-away-from-home for Pakistan, while India has rarely tasted victory there. Of the 26 times that the two teams faced off in UAE, Pakistan were the victors 19 times.
The last time India and Pakistan contested each other was in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, when the latter put up a thorough performance to submerge the Indians completely.
Laxman observed that Shoaib Malik, who is married to India's tennis star Sania Mirza, has often performed better than most other players against India. “The reason he does well against India is his experience, he is a good player of spin bowling because in the middle invariably India will look to attack with the spinners and they’ve got two quality risk spinners now in, Chahal and Kuldeep," quipped India's former trusted batsman in a chat session with Star Sports.
"Shoaib Malik is someone who would look to play the anchor role because he has got the ability to rotate the strike, play down the ground, taking easy singles. But at the same time when he presses the accelerator, he can play the big shots and he has got an abundance of experience and he is a champion as far as the wide ball is concerned," he added.
Laxman's words on Malik also has the support of stats, as Malik does have an impressive record against India. His tally currently stands at 1661 runs in 39 matches at an average of over 47. Four of his nine centuries in the format were also racked up against the men in blue.
The Asia Cup begins on September 15th, 2018. The much-awaited India-Pakistan game is on 19th September and will be held at the Dubai International Stadium.