If top-order’s Powerplay philosophy is a problem, the inexperience of Avesh Khan at the death is no less a worry as the team management may need to revamp the bowling attack against a strong Pakistan side that is coming into the game after demolishing Hong Kong by more than 150 runs.
With no Ravindra Jadeja available in this game, Axar Patel seems a straightaway replacement but the team combination does take a hit in the absence of Saurashtra all-rounder.
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In the last game against Pakistan, head coach Rahul Dravid promoted Jadeja to number four to keep the left-right combination going in the top six as Rishabh Pant was dropped from the playing XI.
It remains to be seen if skipper Rohit Sharma and Dravid will take the gamble again on Sunday. But it won’t be an exaggeration to say that when it comes to requirement of having a pure left-hand batter in top six, only the man from Roorkee can provide the solution.
Last Sunday, it was Hardik Pandya’s one-man show that got India over the line in a thrilling last-over finish and Rohit would expect that intensity is maintained in this game too.
How India and Pakistan have fared at the Asia Cup
However, the Indian team despite being a minefield of talent does have a soft underbelly and the top-order’s cautious approach in the Powerplay overs is one of them.
Neither Virat Kohli nor Rohit looked comfortable against Pakistani attack and as the pitch got slower their problems seemed to have compounded.
It was Suryakumar Yadav’s sheer brilliance that saved India from what was turning out to be an embarrassing batting display against minnows Hong Kong with an out of sync KL Rahul playing his slowest ever (36 off 39 balls) innings.
A pertinent question now arises if India will change their top order and add some firepower since it is now clear that the combination of Rahul, Rohit and Kohli isn’t working well for the team.
To be fair to Rahul, he deserves a go at top order for one more time as he was dismissed by Naseem Shah in the veryu first ball he faced in Sunday’s game.
But the think tank needs to spell it out clearly to Rahul that he needs to change his outlook of looking at the quantum of runs rather than quality and impact it creates.
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The Pakistan team, on its part, would also like to score more in the first 10 overs.
Mohammed Rizwan and Babar Azam have had all the success while chasing but batting first hasn’t exactly been the strong suit of the pair.
Also the slowness of the Dubai track does create a few problems for the batters.
This raises another question whether Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh can both feature in the playing eleven.
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While Axar’s restrictive bowling is an option, Deepak Hooda as a batting all-rounder or Ravichandran Ashwin as a bowling all-rounder can be tried out.
With two left handers in Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah in top six, an off spinner taking the ball away could prove to be a good proposition along with Bhuvneshwar and Hardik, who are bowling full tilt.
In all, another Super Sunday could well be on the cards as the two bitter neighbours get ready to lock horns.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir, Mohammed Hasnain, Hasan Ali