Shane Watson has picked India and Pakistan as the clear favourites for the upcoming Asia Cup, going so far as to say the winner of their opening contest will end up as champions. He highlighted the confidence Pakistan will have after last year's success but still chose India to prevail on Sunday.
The Asia Cup is set for a blockbuster start this week, with the big clash between India and Pakistan set to get things underway in Group A at the Dubai International Stadium on August 28. The two teams can potentially meet thrice through the course of the event, should they manage to qualify first for the Super Fours and then for the grand finale. With the ICC World T20 later in the year also confirmed to feature a match between the two arch-rivals, all eyes will be on Sunday's encounter considering it will set the tone for things to come.
Pakistan will be carrying a mental edge after having demolished their neighbours by 10 wickets when they last battled in the World T20 last year. However, the side will be without ace pacer Shaheen Afridi due to injury who had done most of the damage in the match and taken home the man of the match award. Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson opined that the two favourites can be unplayable on their day thus making for an exciting clash.
"That first game is going to be very special to watch because Pakistan have full belief now that they can beat this Indian team. I think, really, whoever wins that game is going to go on and win the Asia Cup," he told ICC as per Hindustan Times.
"Their confidence is going to be flying high. India is hard to contain, especially their batting. But Pakistan, and as I’ve always known playing against them, when their confidence is high, they’re nearly unstoppable. And their confidence is high now that they know they can beat India in a big tournament."
When asked to predict the winner of the match, Watson hesitated, highlighting how the Men in Green's first ever victory over India in World Cups last year may tip the scales in their favour. However, he eventually picked India to triumph in a closely fought encounter.
"I’m sitting on the fence a little bit!” Watson said with a laugh. “But I think Pakistan have a chance to win that game because of the confidence they’d have got out of winning for the first time in a long time against India."
"My predicted winner is India. They’re so strong and depending on what the conditions are, they adapt easily to conditions. [But] I’ve just got a feeling India [will win the tournament]. They’ve got so much firepower all the way through their batting order, so it’s going to be hard to be able to contain them," he concluded