IND vs PAK, T20 World Cup: Pakistan's key players who could trouble India
IND vs PAK T20 World Cup 2021: Only six players remain from Pakistan's 2016 T20 World Cup squad and new stars have emerged since then for the no. 3 ranked side.
Pakistan is ranked no. 3 in the T20I world rankings.
The last time India faced off against arch-rival Pakistan in the T20 World Cup in 2016, the former came out comprehensive winner in Kolkata. And when the two teams square up on Sunday in Dubai, it will be their first meeting in five years in the format.
Only six players remain from the 2016 squad for the no. 3 ranked side and new stars have emerged since then.
Here are the key players to keep an eye out for from the Pakistan line-up:
Shaheen Shah Afridi
India is yet to face-off against Pakistan's pace-sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi across the formats. In 2021, Shaheen has 10 wickets in 12 T20Is but is coming off an impressive domestic showing in the National T20 Cup, where he scalped 12 wickets in just six outings. He also has the ability to bowl inswinging yorkers right from the word go.
The 21-year-old new-ball bowler swings the ball at some serious pace and could prove to be a threat for the Indian openers -- Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul -- under the lights.
Shaheen Shah Afridi's form with the new ball will be crucial for Pakistan's chances. Photo: Getty Images
In recent times, Rohit and Rahul have ironed out their flaws against the swinging new ball from a left-arm angle, and will be keen to continue in that vein to provide India with the ideal start with the bat.
Opening batter Mohammed Rizwan has been Pakistan's Mr. Dependable with the bat in T20Is. In 2021, the 'keeper has 752 runs in 14 innings at an average of 94 and a strike-rate of 140. He has seven fifties and a T20 century, an unbeaten 104 against South Africa at home earlier this year.
Rizwan sets the tone for Pakistan at the start with his ability to score boundaries regularly and rotate strike regularly. In the Powerplay overs in 2021, the 29-year-old has 296 runs at a strike-rate of 133 with 33 fours and 11 sixes.
Pakistan's Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan during the warm-up match against the West Indies. Photo: AP
He has been dismissed under 30s only thrice this year and if India's new ball bowlers get Rizwan early, they could make inroads into the Pakistan batting line-up.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who was on the bench in the 2016 meeting at the Eden Gardens, is now the world no. 2 ranked T20I batter. Since 2019, Azam has the most runs (1173 runs) among players from non-associate teams.
After Rizwan, Azam at no. 3 is Pakistan's most prolific batter in the line-up this year. He scored his career best 122 off 59 balls against South Africa at Centurion. Azam will be keen to continue his form on the big stage.
The match will be aired LIVE on the Star Sports Network. The match will also be live streamed on Disney+Hotstar.