LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam along with several of his team-mates will be facing India for the first time in any T20 International when the Asian cricketing giants play their opening match of the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday.

Besides Babar, wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Rizwan will also be playing the first match against India in this format.

Only veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik had played seven matches each against India in T20. In contrast, the Indian side has a good number of experienced players who had played Pakistan at this level.

Those who had faced Pakistan in the past are captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma (six matches each), Ravichandran Ashwin (five), Ravindra Jadeja (four), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three), Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya (two each) and Mohammad Shami and (one match).

The main reason behind the infrequent appearances by players of these rivals against each is the lack of bilateral series for many years now, and the only platform on which Pakistan play India is the ICC events.

Since the last T20 World Cup in 2016, the Pakistan side has seen change of guard over the past five years or so. So it is natural that the likes of Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Hyder Ali, Asif Ali and Fakhar Zaman will all be facing India for the first in T20 cricket, while on the Indian side K.L. Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Shardul Thakur and Ishan Kishan will also face Pakistan for the first time.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2021

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