the most-anticipated game of the tournament is around the corner as arch-rivals India and Pakistan are all set to lock horns at Old Trafford on Sunday. India are without the services of Shikhar Dhawan, which creates an opportunity for Vijay Shankar to make an immediate impact at No. 4 spot.
Rohit Sharma : Rohit has already started off well in the World Cup with consecutive scores of 122* and 57. Now, however, he has to do it without his partner in crime which will mean that the pressure will be added on. Against a talented Pakistan attack, under what we can assume will be heavy cloud cover, he will need to provide a stable start.
KL Rahul : Rahul might average an incredible 67.25 when he has faced the first ball, it is important to note than most of those runs came against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. Against England, a couple of years ago, he had measly scores of 8 and 5. He needs to be patient at the start of the innings so as not to expose Virat Kohli to the new ball.
Virat Kohli : Virat Kohli and Pakistan are a match made in heaven. It is a shame that we don’t get to see the two go head to head in the hallowed whites of cricket. This will be the first time that Kohli faces Pakistan since the Champions Trophy final and if you believe in destiny, and have followed Kohli’s career for the last five years, you know he is due a big one.
Vijay Shankar : There is just something about Vijay Shankar and the No. 4 spot that doesn’t seem to work. He looked a lock in for the spot going to England but Rahul was the one who got the nod. After Dhawan went down, it was obvious that he was going to start at the No. 4. However, the Rain Gods had other ideas. He should sleep with fingers crossed tonight if he finally wants to start in a World Cup game.
MS Dhoni : 55.90! That is what Dhoni averages against Pakistan! As if he needed more motivation to play against Pakistan, the entire “Balidaan Insignia” issue would have Dhoni really up for this one.
Hardik Pandya : After his explosive innings against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final ended in a run out, he suffered that freak back injury that ruled him out of the Asia Cup. Rejuvenated post his Koffee with Karan controversy, he can write another chapter in the intriguing Hardik Pandya story with a big performance against the arch rival.
Kedar Jadhav : The “out of syllabus guy” tormented the Pakistanis in the Asia Cup. While Pakistan might have prepared for his off spin this time around, it might be a day when his batting prowess comes to the fore.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar : How good has Bhuvneshwar been so far! It was his injury in the ODI series against England last year that cost India a chance for a Test series win. Now back with a vengeance, the smiling assassin will be more than a handful with the cloud cover in Manchester.
Mohammed Shami : This a big decision for the Virat Kohli. Old Trafford has helped pacers more often than not which means that India might have to sacrifice their X-factor of two wrist spinners. Shami was brilliant in the buildup to the IPL and he might be able to negotiate the middle overs.
Yuzvendra Chahal : The question that now arises is who sits out. Over the last two years whenever India have decided to play one spinner, it has been Chahal who has made way. NOT THIS TIME! He has been playing out of his mind in the World Cup so far with six wickets at an economy of just 5.6. Kuldeep’s indifferent performances help the Haryana man’s cause as well.
Jasprit Bumrah : He is the best bowler in the world. Period. Why would he be rested in the biggest game of the World Cup?
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