As if the buzz concerning the India-Pakistan clash in the forthcoming Asia Cup was any lesser, former Australia speedster Mitchell Johnson has spiced it up by naming the players who could play a decisive role in it.
Johnson feels pacer Umesh Yadav and all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be among the key men when India take on their arch-rivals at Dubai on September 19. The 14th edition of the Asia Cup is scheduled to be held in UAE from September 15 to 28.
"Against Pakistan, India's age-old cricketing rival and neighbour, and keeping UAE's pitch conditions in mind, I think seamers like Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya would work in India's favour," Johnson was quoted as saying by PTI.
"Pandya is currently doing well in the United Kingdom, where he is utilising the conditions well. Pandya's ability to extract pace from pitches and smartly bowling at length when required will help knock out the tricky Pakistani batting line-up,” he added.
Highlighting the importance of Umesh, Johnson said: "I am actually excited to see the way Umesh Yadav will bowl in the Asia Cup. Yadav's biggest asset lies in the ability to choke an opposition at crunch times along with knocking opponents out with variations/reverse swing during his spells."
"Yadav, along with Pandya and (Jasprit) Bumrah, can perfectly set up the situation for the spinners, who would be carrying the mantle of negotiating matches through the middle overs," he explained.
The 2018 Asia Cup will see six teams being divided into two groups. The winner of the Asia Cup qualifier will be joining India and Pakistan in Group A while the Group B comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Johnson picked Pakistan as favourites for the tournament since they have the experience of playing in UAE.
"Pakistan will have an upper hand and will enjoy playing in UAE due to its prior experience of playing in the PSL (Pakistan Super League) and knowing the weather/pitch conditions inside out," he opined.
Johnson also feels that the tournament will be dominated by the bowlers.
"The pitches in UAE have traditionally produced belters, but with the bowling line-up all the teams possess currently we might remember this years tournament as the bowlers' tournament," he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)