India and Pakistan will square-off in the Super Four encounter on Sunday in a bid to rekindle in what has been a damp squib of a rivalry in the past few years.
India comes into this game on the back of two comfortable victories over Pakistan (by eight wickets) and Bangladesh (by seven wickets) while Pakistan escaped to a shock defeat at the hands of Afghanistan thanks to Shoaib Malik’s’ calm and composed 51.
Also Read:- India vs Pakistan- Statistical Analysis
Let us look at some of the key battles that will shape up this India vs Pakistan encounter:-
#1 Fakhar Zaman vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Jasprit Bumrah
Ever since making his debut for Pakistan last year, Fakhar Zaman has been the cornerstone of much of his team’s success. In the 2017 Champions Trophy final, Zaman scored an imperious 114 to knock the wind out of the Indian attack.
With Imam ul Haq, whose every fifty-plus score has resulted in a Pakistan win, the duo has formed a formidable opening pair that spearheads the pegging order. The failure of Zaman and Imam against Bhuvi and Bumrah was one of the many reasons that Pakistan failed to get going against India in the previous match.
With two back-to-back ducks, Zaman will come into this match under tremendous pressure and the way he responds to it against the nagging line-length of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah will set the tone for the entire game.
#2 Shoaib Malik vs Indian spinners
That Shoaib Malik loves playing against India is epitomised to the hilt by his bloated numbers. In 14 matches that Malik has played against India, he averages 47.33 in 40 matches with his career-best score of 143 coming against the Men in Blue in the 2004 Asia Cup.
Malik’s strength lies in his immaculate footwork against the spinners to go along with his ice coll temperament in pressure situations. He has looked imperious in the tournament thus far saving Pakistan from the blushes with a gritty 51 against Afghanistan. Malik averages a staggering 53 at a strike-rate in excess of 90 against the Indian spinners and the manner in which the battle pans out on Sunday will surely decide the course of the match.
#3 Shaheen Afridi & Usman Khan vs Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma’s perennial weakness over the years has been tackling quality left-arm medium pace at the start of his innings. The Indian captain has looked vastly improved in this tournament against the likes of Usman Khan, Amir and Mustafizur Rahman in this tournament, it is still the weakness that Pakistan can exploit in the initial part of the innings.
Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled well in his debut against Afghanistan and if not for Pakistan’s abysmal fielding, he would have notched up three-four wickets. With Afridi being a relatively unknown commodity, he could be Pakistan’s X-Factor in today’s match.
#4 Shadab Khan vs Indian middle-order
Shadab Khan before he picked up an injury looked the most potent Pakistan bowler against Pakistan. With Mohammad Nawaz notching up three wickets against Afghanistan, Pakistan might be tempted to filed two spinners against an Indian middle-order which hasn’t been tested thus far in the tournament.
#5 Hasan Ali vs India batsman in the middle and death overs
No other bowler has claimed more ODI wickets since Hasan Ali’s debut in 2016. The Pakistani pacer relies on reverse-swing, a well-disguised slower ball, a wide yorker and a well-disguised bouncer and strikes every 23 balls for his wicket.
With the likes of MS Dhoni, Karthik and Rayudu in India’s ranks, it promises to be a riveting battle against the Pakistani all-rounder.