“I would say India will start as favourites. This mix of players is their strongest team since 2011,” Shastri said. “And a captain who is experienced, who understands the terrain better than anyone else.
“Having said that, Pakistan has reduced the gap. Seven-eight years ago, if you look at the strength and man-to-man of both the teams there was a gap. But Pakistan have reduced it. They are very good. There are teams, so you have to be on top of your game.”
Shastri believes that when it comes to a high-pressure, high-risk encounter like India vs Pakistan, a player’s form is less important than the player’s temperament, which makes the real difference.
“That’s the key, staying calm and treating it like just another game,” he said. “And don’t overhype it in your mind that forces you to think differently. Your game should be the same as it is in any other game. But because of that subconscious pressure, only mentally strong people are common. Actually we are able to correct it.
“When you look at the mix of players on both sides, they are brilliant. And it will be a fantastic one. In the India-Pakistan game, it is about who handles the pressure better, who is calm, who has The thought process is clear. They are the guys who will step up on those big occasions.
“And never focus on form before an India-Pakistan match, because tough-minded, mentally strong people may not have done much six months ago, but by the time the India-Pakistan match comes, they will come to the fore. “They know the importance of that game, they know where it can take them if they perform well. Their excitement will be higher.”
Shastri: Like Babar, starts will have to be converted into big scores
Shastri believes that all batsmen who want to succeed in tough games need to follow this Babar Azamviewpoint. Pakistan captain Babar scored his 19th ODI century opening match of asia cup against Nepal, and Shastri feels that other batsmen need to set an example.
“He (Babar) turns 30s and early 40s into centuries,” Shastri said. “And that’s very important. We keep saying go out there and face a lot of balls, but if one of your top three scores a century, you get more than 300 points.
“Fielding will also be important, you have to see which team fields better. Sri Lanka won the last Asia Cup on the strength of their fielding. They have been the best fielding side in the subcontinent for a long time, right since 1996. They Were excellent in the last Asia Cup. They are the holders, we must not forget that, so don’t discount them in Sri Lankan conditions. If India’s fielding raises their level, they will be an even stronger side.”