The much-anticipated clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan is all set to take place in the ongoing Asia Cup on Saturday (September 2) in Pallekele. The two teams will be facing each other at the venue for the first time. Moreover, this is their first meeting in ODIs since 2019 World Cup and will be a build up to the October 14 WC clash in Ahmedabad as well. Ahead of the encounter, India have been dealt a huge blow with KL Rahul being ruled out of the group stage matches as he continue nursing a niggle.
This leaves India in a hole in terms of a wicketkeeper-batter position in the playing XI. Sanju Samson cannot be included in the 17-member squad as Rahul hasn’t been completely ruled out while Ishan Kishan has mostly played as an opener. However, going by Rohit Sharma’s ‘flexibility’ statement in the press conference during squad announcement, Kishan seems set to bat at five and also keep wickets for India. The southpaw hasn’t batted ever at the said position and if the team will be in trouble if they lose early wickets. Moreover, he was also seen pairing up with Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja in the nets in Alur while batting.
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli have locked in the top three while Shreyas Iyer will be marking his international comeback at number four. He is also returning for the first time from injury and certainly, all eyes will be on him. If Kishan takes up the number five slot, all-rounders Hardik and Jadeja will bat next. The all-rounder duo is also expected to send down quite a few overs and if we go by the way the Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka went, Jadeja will play a crucial role.
The bowling attack will be led by another injury returnee Jasprit Bumrah who looked supremely fit in the T20I series against Ireland. Having said that, it remains to be seen if his fitness holds up in a 50-over game. With Kuldeep Yadav set to take up the slot of lone genuinie spinner’s slot, there will be a toss up between Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami for the third pacer. There is no question of leaving out Mohammed Siraj who has been India’s top bowler in ODIs over the last couple of years.
India’s predicted playing XI vs Pakistan: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur/Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah
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