India vs Pakistan Predicted XI: Will Hardik Pandya and Shoaib Malik make the cut for high-voltage clash?

Virat Kohli’s Team India will face Babar Azam-led Pakistan in the biggest clash of T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai on Sunday (October 24). Both teams will look to put their best foot forward in their opening game of the tournament and will look to put their finest combination on the park.

Skipper Kohli has already said that Hardik Pandya will be used as a specialist No. 6 batsman till the time he can start bowling again. Former India batter Mohammad Kaif also told Zee News English in an exclusive Facebook Live session that Hardik is certainty in the playing XI at No. 6.

“No look he’ll (Hardik Pandya) not bowl now, it’s been months or years since he bowled. His back injury caused more problems so I think even captain Kohli knows that he might not be able to use Hardik as a bowler but yes he’ll play as a batter in this World Cup,” Kaif told Zee News English.

Watch Mohammad Kaif’s complete interview here…

Kaif believes that Mumbai and Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Shardul Thakur will play the role of the all-rounder in the side. “Shardul Thakur brings balance to the team because he can bowl the middle-overs too so he’s a very good option. He also won the IPL this year with MS Dhoni’s Chennai team so Shardul is certainty for me.

“Also they can play with two spinners (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja, both are very experienced. Ashwin is making a comeback after sometime and he’s been in good-form, also he has played the IPL in Dubai so knows about the conditions there,” the Delhi Capitals assistant coach felt.

“Number 6 would be Hardik Pandya , No. 5 Suryakumar Yadav, No. 4 Rishabh Pant, No. 3 Virat Kohli and opening batters will be KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. Options are there for Virat Kohli as Ishan Kishan is also a good opening batsmen and Mohammed Shami maybe will not get to start the tournament maybe but he’s also a very good option,” Kaif said.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam went on to announce the final 12 ahead of the India game. They decided to leave out former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed but chose to go in with veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

“We have decided the 12 men who could be a part of the side for tomorrow. Myself, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf. These are our 12-man side and we will announce our playing XI tomorrow,” said Azam in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

Probable XI:

India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur/Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin/Varun Chakravarthy

Pakistan: Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.

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Sagar Biswas

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