An India-Pakistan game is always a showpiece event in an ICC event and this time it is no different. Both teams do not play as often as they do anymore, so whenever there is a game there are lots of emotions attached to the same from the fans and the players alike. India is still unbeaten in this World Cup while Pakistan has lost two crucial games which makes every game they play important. India had their last game rained off and this will be their first game since they beat Australia last week.
The India team is a settled one but they received a huge blow when Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out after a thumb injury for 3 weeks. This would mean that India needs to shuffle its much settled top order by bringing in KL Rahul to open with Rohit Sharma. This would be really disappointing for the Indian camp as finally the top 4 was looking settled after a long time. This will also mean that the much-dreaded number 4 problem returns again. India needs to choose between Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar for that spot and the decision isn’t going to be easy.
Vijay Shankar was earmarked for the number four spot when a hundred in the warm-up game made KL Rahul the front runner. Dinesh Karthik though brings in years of experience with him and him playing means that probably MS Dhoni has to move up to number four in the order. Whatever the decision might be, it will be very crucial for the balance of the team. The rest of the team will mostly remain the same. The batting has looked in great form with everyone getting runs and the bowling has worked brilliantly together. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar both have looked fantastic with the new ball and the two spinners have done excellently in the middle overs.
For Pakistan though the loss against Australia brought back their batting issues once again. Chasing a score of just over 300 their top order batters got off to starts and threw their wickets away. They had one good game with the bat against England but overall they have struggled with overcast conditions and swing. The biggest positive for them though is the bowling of Mohammad Amir. His five-wicket haul was the major reason Australia did not get a bigger total. The rest of the bowling was inconsistent and leaked runs with the new ball. Pakistan also dropped Shadab Khan for Shaheen Shah Afridi in their previous game but again that is most likely to be reversed against India.
The other discussion is with the position of Shoaib Malik who has been struggling but again with his good record against India in the past, he is likely to retain his place. The rest of the XI most likely will remain the same. There will not be any major changes in the XI which played against Australia.
Head to Head:
Even though Pakistan has a huge lead in the historical head to head record against India, in the world cups though India with a 6-0 record has dominated their arch rivals in the major tournament.
Rohit Sharma (India): Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have formed an amazing partnership over the years at the top of the order and with the former missing due to injury, the onus is on the latter to take over the mantle. Rohit has had a great start to the tournament and India will be hoping that he continues to score runs and provides a good start for India in this game.
Jasprit Bumrah (India): Bumrah is India’s Premier pace bowler and he has proven the same so far in the tournament. He bowls with pace and control and invariably picks up wickets with the new ball. The Pakistan top three are their strength and Bumrah will be important with the new ball against them.
Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan): Pakistan batting line up is a little one dimensional. Fakhar Zaman is the only one who breaks that monotony. Considering the Pakistan batting struggles for momentum when Fakhar gets out cheaply, he will be important to see if the Indian new ball threat and provide his team with a fast start. His hundred in the Champions Trophy finals was the reason Pakistan got that big total.
Mohammad Amir (Pakistan): Pakistan bowling attack has been struggling for consistency. They have been having problems picking wickets with the new ball over the past 18 months and Mohammad Amir’s form so far in the tournament being the only silver lining. His five-wicket haul against Australia was brilliant and his battle with the Indian top order will be one of the highlights of this game.
What they said?
“Eleven guys share the responsibility. The weather is not in anyone’s hands. We have to see whatever amount of game we get, we need to be mentally ready to do whatever we need to,” said Virat Kohli about the weather at Manchester.
“When two good teams play each other, the fielding can make a difference and we conceded runs due to lapses in fielding,” Sarfaraz Ahmed said talking about Pakistan fielding worries. “If you want to beat the big teams, we can’t make such mistakes.
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar/Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali/Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir
The recent political tensions between the two countries have made this game a lot more than what it would have been for the fans of both countries. We still have to keep in mind that this is just a game and nothing more. It is very hard to predict an India-Pakistan contest but again, India has had the upper hand in recent times. Considering the psychological stranglehold they have on Pakistan in World Cup games, they do start as the favorites for this game. The weather once again will play a crucial role as the forecast is for rain in Manchester.