INDIA/PAKISTAN: The second pending match of India versus Pakistan has long been scheduled for this Sunday in the minds of fans, organisers, and players. However, it wasn’t officially confirmed until Friday night.
It has an added element of background and excitement because it was played so recently—just a week ago—and the teams are less unfamiliar with one another than they typically are. The two teams will square off against one another for the first time since the 2018 Asia Cup soon after the other.
Since, this is the first Super 4 game for both teams, it may not be seen in its proper context. But they have another chance to get to know one another before their men’s T20 World Cup match in Australia in less than two months.
Not to mention, understanding the opposition’s tactics could be very beneficial in a week if Part 3 of this scenario occurs in the final on Sunday.
Although there isn’t much separating both teams, especially in these conditions, as was shown in their close match a week ago, India does enter as the small favourite. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, their bowlers performed admirably, utilising the short ball to devastating effect in a way that Babar Azam’s team was unable to counter or duplicate.
India had the benefit of having Hardik Pandya, a two-in-one player in the middle order, who they were able to rest against Hong Kong. Virat Kohli, meanwhile, seems to be rediscovering his groove after making an unbeaten 50 against Hong Kong and scoring a critical 35 against Pakistan early in the game.
Pakistan’s huge, record-breaking victory over Hong Kong dispelled any concerns that they might struggle in the group round. Mohammad Rizwan returned to form with an unbeaten 78 off 57, while Khushdil Shah got off to a strong start with an unbeaten 15-ball 35.
Pakistan’s bowling, which is by far their strongest suit, was in excellent form, with Shadab Khan recording career-best figures of 4 for 8 and Mohammad Nawaz recording 3 for 5. Although Dubai might not give the spinners as much of a chance, Pakistan’s best chance of winning still lies in a balanced bowling assault.
Of course, there are also Super 4 points available. Even though they currently seem a little bit like an afterthought, their value will rise as these two compete for a spot in the final against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Players to watch out
Rohit Sharma- The vultures may have been hovering around Kohli when this tournament began, but Rohit Sharma’s recent form has created something of a top-order vulnerability for India. Over his last dozen or so T20Is, there has only been one half-century scattered among many low-to-medium scores.
That effect is even more pronounced when playing Pakistan, with his average falling from a career average of 32 to 13.66. Similar to that, his strike rate plummets from 139.84 to 112.32.
Rohit only managed a shaky 12 from 18 balls when the teams last played in Dubai. If he can overcome this period of indifference, too, Pakistan would be faced with more difficult issues as a result of India’s top leadership.
Iftikhar Ahmed – When the two teams met last week, it appeared as though Iftikhar Ahmed was doing the rebuilding for Pakistan against India through the middle order, even though he eventually fell at an unfortunate time. He should play a more significant role on Sunday as the value of Pakistan’s middle order becomes more apparent each day.
He should be crucial to Pakistan’s hopes, especially if they are allowed to bat first once more. He is one of the few middle-order batters in Pakistan who can play the dual role of consolidation and power-hitting.
Babar Azam introduced him during the powerplay against Hong Kong on Friday, hinting that he would play a bigger all-around role against India.
Due to fever, Avesh Khan is questionable to play in the game. Meanwhile, Hardik should make a comeback, and Axar Patel should replace Ravindra Jadeja, who’s out of the competition and the T20 World Cup due to a knee injury. There is still the Dinesh Karthik vs Rishabh Pant debate.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant/Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Avesh Khan/R Ashwin, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Shahnawaz Dahani, another fast bowler for Pakistan, has a “suspected side strain” and will not play in the match on Sunday. Hasan Ali or Mohammad Hasnain will replace him.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Naseem Shah, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Hasan Ali