The captains always try to underplay the occasion, but an India-Pakistan match has forever been a mouth-watering prospect. While the match is about the skill sets of players, much of it is played in the mind and the players who hold their nerve better emerge triumphant in the end.
There are interesting subplots in the match and how they play out could well determine the eventual result of the match. We take a look at the important player battles in the match.
Mohammed Amir vs Rohit Sharma
“He is just a normal bowler, on that given day if he is good, he is good. It is not as if he turns up and blows everyone away,” Rohit Sharma had said before India met Pakistan in the 2016 Asia Cup.
Well, Amir trundled up and dismissed Rohit in that match and then accounted for him in the finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017. Although, he has not been in good wicket-taking form in the recent past, his angle has always troubled Rohit.
India’s captain looked good in the match against Hong Kong, but could not bat deep into the innings and the match against Pakistan is his opportunity to make a statement.
Usman Khan Shinwari vs Shikhar Dhawan
The young left-arm seamer was the man of the match in the game against Hong Kong. He accounted for three wickets in one over and impressed one and all with his pace and unnerving accuracy. He has the ability to swing the new ball and Dhawan has struggled against the away swinger in England.
However, he did find form against Hong Kong and has been India’s gun player in limited overs cricket in the past one last year.
Hasan Ali vs MS Dhoni
“The last time I took three wickets in the Champions Trophy final, my favourite was MS Dhoni’s wicket. I am looking forward to bowling against him again,” Hasan Ali said before the tournament.
He has been one of Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker over the past one year and has picked 57 wickets in 25 matches (since 2017) and has been Sarfraz’a go-to man in the middle overs.
MS Dhoni, on the other hand, faced a lot of flak for his sluggish batting in the ODIs against England and he has generally struggled against back of a length bowling. Hasan Ali generally bowls the hard length and this tussle in the middle overs could well decide the result of the match.
Jasprit Bumrah vs Fakhar Zaman
One of the turning points in that famous India-Pakistan final at the Oval in 2017 was when Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Fakhar Zaman early in the piece, but had overstepped. Zaman went on to slam a century and took the match away from India.
The left-hander has only gone from strength from strength ever since his debut and is one of the key cogs for Pakistan.
In 19 matches, Zaman has peeled off 1089 runs at a staggering average of 72.60 and with a strike rate of 101.58.
However, Bumrah is now a Test bowler for India and was mighty impressive in the just-concluded Test series against England. There is a visible change in his attitude and he now looks to set batsmen up and then goes for the kill. India need to get rid of Fakhar early if they want to control the innings and Bumrah would ideally want to set the record straight.
Kuldeep Yadav vs Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik loves the Indian bowling attack and scores runs for fun against the bowling attack. In 39 matches against India, Malik has scored 1661 runs at an average of 47.45.
However, he will have to face the mystery of Kuldeep Yadav, who has been India’s trump card over the past 15 months. Malik is a terrific player of spin, but Kuldeep with his variations can be a handful.
A spicy contest is on the cards!
Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Babar Azam
Bhuvneshwar returns to the side after an injury layoff and has to lead the Indian attack. He has now experience on his side and Rohit will look towards him to take care of Babar Azam, who has been one of the most prolific run-scorers for Pakistan, more so in UAE.