The India-Pakistan rivalry is old enough that the Asia Cup game on Wednesday will be at the sapping Dubai heat and a packed house can be expected to grace the stadium. The arch-rivals are coming up against each other in the UAE after a period of 12 long years.
Since the start of the decade, India has had a 5-2 win-loss equation against Pakistan in ODIs as they have only met at multi-team tournament. One of those two wins for the men in green came in the Asia Cup 2014, but the inability to beat the men in blue in ICC events was still held against them. Until Champions Trophy 2017, of course. Now, the pressure has shifted, especially after India’s close win against Hing Kong on Tuesday.
India’s middle-order is still unconvincing, Bhuvneshwar Kumar went wicketless and till the 35th over of the second innings, it appeared like the minnows with pull off an upset against India. They eventually didn’t, but a thoroughly exploited the weaknesses of the men in blue.
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In terms of the team selection, India’s team management needs to make a big decision overnight. Jasprit Bumrah has to return to the squad for the marquee clash, but it would be cruel on Khaleel Ahmed if it is at his expense. Shardul Thakur had a poor outing and he should make way.
The next big call is in the top-order. The bench has Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul waiting to get in, but with Ambati Rayudu performing well and Kedar Jadhav doubling up as the sixth bowling option, only one player can be replaced and Dinesh Karthik expected to be the one. Rahul is expected to be coming back at no.3 and Rayudu to bat at no.4, especially after looking at the latter’s ability to play spin well.
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Now, the question is if Hardik has to be in the XI, then it can be at the expense of either Bhuvneshwar or Khaleel and the chances of the latter being benched are more likely. India’s predicted XI for the much-awaited game:
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya/Khaleel Ahmed