Kohli vs Shadab to Babar vs Bumrah, top battles to watch out for during India vs Pakistan clash


Virat Kohli-led India will face Babar Azam’s Pakistan in a high octane Group 2 clash in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, here on Sunday.

India last hosted Pakistan in a bilateral series in 2013 and the teams now meet only in global tournaments. The two teams last met in the group stages of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, with India convincingly defeating the old rivals to maintain their undefeated streak in World Cups.

The two arch-rivals have met each other five times at a T20 World Cup and ‘Men in Blue’ have won on all the occasions. However, a new day awaits for both the teams on October 24 and they will have an equal chance to win.

Ahead of the marquee clash, take a look at top-five player battles to watch out for:

Rohit Sharma vs Shaheen Shah Afridi

Pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi will be the key to Pakistan’s hopes with the new ball. The 21-year-old left-arm exploded on to the scene in 2018 and since then he has taken 32 wickets from 30 T20Is, most of it came upfront too with the new ball. His skills and ability to bowl fast Yorkers will come into play against India opener Rohit Sharma.

Moreover, Rohit’s struggle against left-arm pace is well documented. In T20s, the right-handed batsman averages 21.1 and has scored at almost a run-a-ball rate against left-arm pacers since 2019, among the least against all the bowling varieties. In T20I World Cups, he has been dismissed five times by left-arm pacers, scoring only 110 runs at a strike rate of 129.4.

However, Pakistan are aware that Rohit is the man for the big occasion and if he gets going then the swashbuckling batsman can turn the match on his head.

Mohammed Shami vs Mohammad Rizwan

Mohammad Rizwan has been one of the most dependable batsmen for Pakistan and he has played several rock-solid innings up front for his national team in the T20I format. In fact, he is the leading run-scorer in T20Is this year, having scored 752 runs at an average of 40.

Team India will find Mohammed Shami a potent option handling the Pakistani batsman. The right-arm pacer has been in fine form and took three wickets against England in the first warm-up game. He also took a wicket in every match he played in the IPL’s UAE leg, to claim 11 wickets in six games at an economy of around 7.5 per over. Shami can stun Rizwan with his pace.

Jasprit Bumrah vs Babar Azam

Skipper Babar Azam has led from the front with the bat for Pakistan. Azam, who opens or bats at No 3, hit a half-century against the West Indies in the practice match but was dismissed for 15 by Kagiso Rabada in the practice game against South Africa.

Azam faces a daunting prospect in the form of strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who could target him during the powerplay overs with his toe-crushing yorkers. India will be eager to get Azam early as it would set panic in the Pakistan camp.

Virat Kohli vs Shadab Khan

The Indian skipper Virat Kohli has been on the headlines for varied reasons throughout his illustrious career, however, in recent times, the cricketer has picked up the spotlight after he announced his last stint as shortest format captain (T20s and T20Is). Kohli is yet to win a major T20 trophy in his captaincy career and he would want to leave on a high.

However, Kohli has not been upto his best with bat in the recent times and his slight weakness against leg-spinners will be a major concern for India as Pakistan’s leggie Shadab Khan will aim to deceive India skipper with googly and eye his valuable wicket.

Shoaib Malik vs Varun Chakravarthy

Pakistan will rely on the experienced batsman Shoaib Malik to tame the Indian spinners in the middle overs. However, mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who took 18 wickets in the IPL 2021, at an impressive economy rate of 6.5, can proved to be surprise package for India and run through Pakistan’s middle order given the assist he will get from UAE pitches.

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Sagar Biswas

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