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K.R. Nayar column: Time is ripe for an India-Pakistan T20 series

Series triumph away from home reflect the depth of talent in these two teams

Image Credit: AP
Pakistan and India are on a neck-to-neck race for the top slot in the ICC ranking with the former now on top.
Gulf News

It was a Super Sunday for Indian and Pakistan cricket as they emerged champions in two Twenty20 series across different continents.

While Pakistan beat Australia in the tri-series final to emerge as champions in Harare, India defeated England to win the T20 series 2-1 at Bristol.

The two team’s performances showed how gifted their players are in this format. Both victories are special since they were registered away from their home conditions.

Pakistan and India are on a neck-to-neck race for the top slot in the ICC ranking with the former now on top.

It was Pakistan’s ninth successive T20 international (T20I) series win on Sunday. They made it special by recording their highest successful chase in a T20 international, and that too against the formidable Australians who are third in the rankings.

India, having beaten England on their home soil, also a great start for their tour. This is the eighth time in a row that India had won a bilateral T20I series.

The strength of these two teams lies in their players’ ability to adapt successfully to the needs of a T20 format.

Pakistan’s opener Fakhar Zaman is now undoubtedly one of the world’s best players in the shorter format of the game.

They also have the experienced Shoaib Malek, who in this series became the first player to play 100 T20I matches.

India have opener Rohit Sharma, who has time and again proved that he is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the T20 format. Little wonder that he is the second player after New Zealand’s Colin Munro to score three hundreds in T20 internationals. India also have the experienced Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who on Sunday, became the first player to take five catches in a T20I innings. His performance silences everyone who are sceptical about his fitness for the 2019 World Cup.

The two teams also have inspiring captains in the superstar Virat Kohli and Sarfraz Ahmad. Both are aggressive in their approach and have managed to get the best out of their players. Only such an approach by skippers can win matches against opponents like England and Australia.

The two arch rivals could now be considered as the cream of the T20 format. It’s unfortunate that fans are not being able to frequently watch a clash between these two teams due to political reasons. For a T20 game to be exciting, it must be played by equally balanced teams.

What else can be more thrilling than a T20 battle between the two top-ranked teams? The big losers due to these two nations not playing against each other through a regular bilateral series are the fans. They have been denied many such opportunities in the past — contests which could have enriched the game further.