India vs Pakistan, World Cup 2019: Karthik to replace Dhawan, Shadab to return to XI?

Sportstar assesses the possible playing 11s for India and Pakistan for Sunday's highly-anticipated fixture at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Dinesh Karthik goes through fielding drills during a practice session on the eve of the match against Pakistan in Old Trafford, Manchester.   -  Reuters

India and Pakistan will meet for the seventh time in World Cups on Sunday, with Old Trafford in Manchester hosting the highly-anticipated match between the arch-rivals.

Both teams are in near-opposite ends of the points table, with Pakistan languishing in ninth with just one win from its opening four matches (its scheduled match against Sri Lanka in Bristol was washed out) while India, unbeaten in three going into Sunday's match, is fourth.

India is the most-balanced and well-settled unit, which, however, needs to plug the gap left by Shikhar Dhawan's absence. The left-handed opening batsman, who suffered a hairline fracture in his left thumb in the match against Australia, is expected to be out of action for a minimum of 10 days to two weeks.

K. L. Rahul, who was named as the backup opener in the squad but who batted at No. 4 in India's first match and at No. 6 in India's second match, will open alongside Rohit Sharma. The subsequent question is, who will replace Dhawan in the Indian playing XI?

Dhawan's replacement will be based on M. S. Dhoni's batting position but the overhead and pitch conditions will also determine the XI the team management goes in with.

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Dhoni could bat at No. 4, in which case Dinesh Karthik could come in as a potential finisher in the side. “The conditions and the length of the game will obviously make us think about a few combinations that we could potentially go in with,” Kohli said on the eve of the match.

The rest of the XI pretty much picks itself, though if the conditions, as expected, are overcast and bowler-friendly, India might bring in another seamer in place of a spinner.

Probable India XI: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul, M. S. Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik/Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

Pakistan played an all-pace attack against Australia, leaving out leg-break bowler Shadab Khan. Mohammad Amir took five for 30 to help his team bowl out Australia for 307 in 49 overs, though Shaheen Afridi, who replaced Shadab and finished with two for 70 in 10 overs, was erratic for much of his spell.

Given that India's batting line-up, in Dhawan's absence, is full of right-handers, Pakistan will contemplate bringing in leggie Shadab, though who he could come in for is anyone's guess.

The 20-year-old could replace Shaheen after making way for the left-arm pacer, or he could also come in for Shoaib Malik or Asif Ali. Another question for the team management is whether it brings in Mohammad Hasnain, who has yet to make his World Cup debut. Hassan Ali hasn't been in good bowling form recently and Hasnain will give Pakistan the surprise element.

Probable Pakistan XI: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c & wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik/Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hassan Ali/Mohammad Hasnain, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi