Former Indian cricketer turned commentator, Sanjay Manjrekar, has speculated on India’s playing XI for their upcoming high-stakes clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023. As the countdown to the match intensifies, Manjrekar has formulated his preferred lineup for the crucial fixture, set to take place at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
In Manjrekar’s envisioned squad, he opts for a formidable pace attack, including Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, and the versatile Hardik Pandya. The return of KL Rahul, who has recovered from an injury sustained during the IPL 2023, finds a place in the playing XI. To open the innings, Manjrekar chooses the combination of skipper Rohit Sharma and the promising Shubman Gill.
Explaining his choices, Sanjay Manjrekar states, “My three seamers would be Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami. Hardik Pandya would be my fourth seamer. My spinners would be Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. My opener would be Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma. No. 3 batter would be Virat Kohli. KL Rahul would play because he is the keeper,” as he shares with ESPNcricinfo.
Delving into the middle-order dynamics, Manjrekar suggests that either Shreyas Iyer or the promising Tilak Varma could feature in the lineup. With a predominance of right-handed batsmen in the top order, Manjrekar believes adding a left-hander like Tilak Varma could provide a balanced mix to the batting lineup. He acknowledges the strategic challenge posed by having an array of right-handers in the playing XI and emphasizes the need for balance.
“Either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma could play [in the middle-order]. I am saying this because in India’s first-choice side XI, the first seven (six) batters, including Hardik Pandya, are all right-handers. Somewhere, India will have to fit in a left-hander in Tilak Varma. This is a problem India has,” Sanjay Manjrekar comments.
Tilak Varma, who earned his maiden ODI call-up, arrives on the scene with an impressive track record. His noteworthy performances in IPL 2023 and the T20I series against the West Indies have positioned him as a potential asset in India’s middle order. With a combination of experience and emerging talent, Manjrekar’s speculations offer insights into the strategic considerations ahead of the much-anticipated match.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s India XI vs Pakistan: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer/ Tilak Varma, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj