It will be big treat for cricket fans not just from India and Pakistan but also around the world as world cricketa��s biggest rivalry set to take place on this Super Sunday when defending champions men in blue start their title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan on, June 4 at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Both the teams will play against each other in 50 overs game after a gap of two years. Last time they faced each other in pool match of World Cup 2015 at Adelaide, Australia; when India beat Pakistan convincingly by 76 runs with the help of Virat Kohlia��s sparkling 107 off 126 balls.
Despite widespread speculations in the media reports for last few days about rift between head coach Anil Kumble and skipper Virat Kohli, men in blue cana��t afford to lose focus ahead ofthe big clash. Indian media is abuzz with news about differences between Kohli and Kumble over tactics and training. Turning to the match, even though Indian men never lost to Pakistan in world cup matches; Champions Trophy record will give little hope for Pakistani team as they have 2-1 winning record in three matches they have played against India in Champions Trophy before this clash.
When these two teams met each other in their last Champions Trophy battle at the same venue Edgbaston, Birmingham in Champions Trophy 2013; Men in Blue defeated Pakistan by 8 wickets and 2.5 overs to spare in rain curtailed match. Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi havs predicted Indian team to be favourites for the big match on Sunday.a�?As a passionate Pakistan supporter, it’s natural that I would want my team to finish on the winning side against any team; and especially against India, our fierce rivals.”
“However, recent history and the depth of the India squad gives it a slight edge heading into the gamea�?. Shahid Afridi wrote in his column for the ICC. The 37 year old former Pakistani aggressive batsman also hailed improved performance of Indian bowlers. a�?While batting is India’s traditional strength, it is also fielding a balanced bowling attack that includes some skillful bowlers led by the wilyA�Ravichandran Ashwina�?.
Even though Indian team did not play any ODI in recent past since ODI series against England at home in January this year; they still look balanced and settled side ahead of their opening clash. Captain Virat Kohli has tried each possible option in two warm-up games they have played; to give each player a chance to adapt themselves in these unfamiliar English conditions. On the other hand, eighth ranked Pakistan team seemed struggling with the performance of the individuals. They arrived into Champions Trophy with 2-1 away series victory against Caribbean team in ODI.
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Fitness of Yuvraj Singh is a big question mark ahead of Sundaya��s clash. Team management has kept silence on his fitness; he didna��t appear in any of Indiaa��s two warm-up games due to viral fever; Dinesh Karthik took full advantage of given opportunity and scored 94 runs off 77 balls. It makes him the strongest contender to replace Yuvraj Singh in playing XI if heA�doesna��t get match fit on time. But 35 year old, southpaw is expected to return to the playing XI on Sunday against Pakistan.
There is very slim chance of Ajinkya Rahane playing in the eleven ahead of Dinesh Karthik if Yuvraj doesna��t play; considering his good batting form in past in the English conditions. Apart from this, Indian batting looks settled; picking up right bowling combination could create problem for team management as all the bowlers performed well in two warm up games. It wona��t be a surprise if Kohli goes in with three frontline pacers and two spinners; considering the flat nature of Edgbaston wicket and seaming friendly overhead conditions.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Yuvraj Singh / Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya; Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami.
The batting combination worries, along with picking the right bowling combination, leave Pakistan with plenty to think about. Even though Pakistan entered into Champions Trophy as eighth ranked ODI team and is struggling with the form; still India should not make mistake to take them lightly as they are the most unpredictable team of the tournament along with Bangladesh. Fahim Ashrafa��s match winning knock (64 runs off 41 balls) against Bangladesh in warm-up match could earn him place in Playing XI replacing all-rounder Imad Wasim.
Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c &wk), Imad Wasim / Fahim Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammed Amir, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali.