For India, the Dubai win was a regression to the mean after the team suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals in the Champions Trophy final last year. Can Pakistan change the status quo today? India will be highly confident in their abilities when they will take the field.
Rohit Sharma: In the absence of Virat Kohli, India needed their stand-in skipper to step up to the plate. And Rohit Sharma lived up to the billing in the sweltering Dubai heat to guide India to victory in the match against Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, the fact that a new pitch will be used today with a bit more help for the pacers, Sharma needs to be more careful and play accordingly.
Shikhar Dhawan: After the disappointment that was the England series, the Delhi opener has been a force to be reckoned with in the Asia Cup so far and is the highest scorer in the tournament as well. His starts have been very helpful for the Indian side and if he can dictate his kryptonite - left-arm pacers - in the powerplay, Pakistan, better beware.
Ambati Rayudu: He must count his blessings for finding a spot ahead of KL Rahul, which is somewhat logical, as Rahul is being bred as a potential No. 4. But, a strike rate of 72.22 in three matches doesn’t do justice to the amount of talent that Rayudu has and on his birthday, today, he must pull off his socks and break the shackles early in the innings.
Dinesh Karthik: Averaging only 30.42 after 15 years in international cricket, Dinesh Karthik doesn’t have a lot of excuses to give for his continuous under-performance. His innings against Pakistan was a decent one which can help him get through the campaign, but time is running out for DK.
MS Dhoni (wk): It has seriously become a Nayan Mongia situation. Both were excellent wicket-keepers, no doubt. However, apart from that 152 against Australia in 1996, it is very hard to recall
Kedar Jadhav: Such is Kedar Jadhav’s position in the team is that he didn’t have to bowl against Bangladesh even after a man of the match bowling performance against Pakistan. But, the Pakistanis will be extremely wary of him come today’s match and the Maharashtra wicketkeeper-turned-all-rounder will be bracing up for the challenges.
Ravindra Jadeja: If life throws opportunities at you, grab it like the way Ravindra Jadeja did in Dubai. After getting an unexpected lifeline, Jadeja picked up wickets for fun and bagged the man of the match award as well. It must be a confidence booster going forward and the encounter today will be another chance to prove that the last game was not a fluke.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: With little or no swing on offer, the match against Pakistan in the league stage was going to be a test for Bhuvneshwar's ability on flat, unresponsive decks and he laid down the marker for other bowlers with superb powerplay display. Can he unleash the same self once again? Indian fans will be eagerly waiting for that.
Jasprit Bumrah: Jasprit Bumrah's figures of 2 for 23 against Pakistan included the wickets of lower-order batsman Faheem Ashraf and No. 11 Usman Khan. Bhuvneshwar Kumar may have played a bigger role in the game, but Bumrah helped build the pressure from the other end and that made sure that Bhuvi had a lot of freedom to go for a kill.
Kuldeep Yadav: Kuldeep Yadav has been kept at bay by most teams in the competition and it seems like his mystery factor is being easily decoded
Yuzvendra Chahal: Apart from the match against Hong Kong, Yuzvendra Chahal hasn’t done much in the tournament so far, going wicketless in the last two matches. Chahal is an attacking leggie though, which gives him the advantage of tempting the batsmen to his doom. His impact will only be assessed when India defend a big total.
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