DHAKA: India and Pakistan renew their cricket rivalry after almost a year's break when they take part in the Asia Cup one-day tournament starting in Dhaka on Sunday.
Buoyant Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh, the other two teams in the fray to determine one-day supremacy on the continent, play the opening match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka.
But the focus is already on the March 18 tie, the first between the arch-rivals since the high-profile World Cup semi-final at Mohali last March, which India won on their way to clinching the showpiece title.
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq, whose team were blanked 4-0 by England recently, said the match against India would be a highlight.
"Against India it is something special because of the supporters of Pakistan and India," he said.
"Everyone wants to enjoy India-Pakistan rivalry and that adds to the pressure. But we want to play good cricket and improve our own performance. It's going to be a tough tournament."
India severed cricket links with its neighbour after the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border in Pakistan.
The Asia Cup will be the first assignment for new Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore, the former Australian international who guided Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996.
The tournament provides Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar with yet another opportunity to record an unprecedented 100th international century.
The world record-holder has gone a year without a three-figure knock since scoring his 99th ton in a World Cup match against South Africa in Nagpur last March.
India hope to make amends after their disastrous tours of England and Australia, where they lost both the Test and one-day series.
India, who won the last Asia Cup title in Sri Lanka in 2010, have rested hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag and key paceman Zaheer Khan, but will feel at home on the low, slow pitches in Dhaka.
Sri Lanka, who finished runners-up to India in the World Cup, have produced encouraging results after reappointing Mahela Jayawardene as captain and South African Graham Ford as coach.
They not only knocked India out of the recent tri-series in Australia, but also gave the hosts a close run before losing the best-of-three final 2-1.
Bangladesh are boosted by the return of opener Tamim Iqbal, who was initially dropped by the country's cricket chief before being added as a 15th member of the squad on Thursday.
Each side will play the other once in the round-robin league, with the top two advancing to the final on March 22.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ