Ravindra Jadeja played his part in India’s victory over Pakistan in their Asia Cup Group A clash here a few days ago. When the sides meet once again on Sunday, this time in the Super 4, India will be hampered by the absence of an injured Jadeja.
Apart from his tidy left-arm spin, Jadeja brought value as a flexible batter. The southpaw was promoted to number four in the Pakistan clash to counter spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz. The move worked, as Jadeja, alongside Hardik Pandya, took India home.
In Axar Patel, India has a like-for-like replacement. Axar must hit the ground running for India to succeed in the Super 4.
India must fill a couple of surface cracks. The openers, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, have struggled in the two matches of this tournament. While Rohit has made scores of 12 and 21 against Pakistan and Hong Kong, respectively, Rahul was sent back for a golden duck by Pakistan speedster Naseem Shah. Rahul’s tortured 39-ball 36 against Hong Kong reflected his lack of confidence. Rahul could take the opposite approach in this outing by blasting his way into some form.
Virat Kohli got an unbeaten 59, but his circumspect style suggested that he is not back in top gear yet.
Big things will be expected from Suryakumar Yadav, who went berserk in the Hong Kong game with an unbeaten 26-ball 68. Suryakumar, cleaned up by Naseem for 18 in the earlier game, will pose the biggest threat for Pakistan.
All-rounder Pandya, rested for the Hong Kong encounter, will likely return to the eleven. Pandya will take great confidence from his man-of-the-match performance against Pakistan, where he picked up three wickets and held the chase together with an unbeaten 33.
Fast bowlers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh, who have gone at a tournament economy rate of 12 and 9.82, respectively, must find the right lengths.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has led the attack admirably, returning a four wicket haul against Pakistan while keeping the runs in check.
Pakistan, meanwhile, enters this fixture on the back of a huge 155-run win over Hong Kong. Spinners Shadab and Nawaz took seven wickets between them, as Hong Kong was shot out for 38.
The batting clicked as well, with Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman recording fifties. Khushdil Shah applied the finishing touches with a rapid 15-ball 35.
Speedster Shahnawaz Dahani will not be available for Sunday’s match due to a suspected side strain.
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