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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Monday 1 June 2020
Karachi has hosted just 4 T20 International matches till now in which the average score batting first has been 191 and that batting second is 109. The highest score recorded at this venue is 205 by Pakistan against West Indies in 2018.
In the domestic T20 games, which have a bigger sample size of 16 matches, the average score batting first has been 171 with Pakistan Super League franchise Islamabad United top scoring with 238.
Especially, that the Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup will be played in the T10 format, it means that big runs will be on offer on the surface. With 9 teams having won the match chasing in domestic T20s as opposed to 7 batting first, we understand that Babar Azam or Virat Kohli, whoever the winning captain is, will choose to field first.
The playing XI has been decided with the form and fitness of players in mind.
The top four in Pakistan's batting order take care of themselves with Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik being the obvious choices. At number five, Iftikhar Ahmed pips 'The Professor' Mohammad Hafeez to the post because of his more effective big-hitting ability.
Sarfaraz Ahmed takes the role of the wicketkeeper-batsman with Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan as the spin bowling all-rounders.
The pace battery comprises Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir. The young Naseem Shah, for all his talent and pace, couldn't leapfrog the experienced pros for a place in the XI. Asif Ali and Haris Sohail are the other squad members to miss out.
For India, despite the exceptional form of KL Rahul, the successful opening combination of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan was too hard to break. Apart from the experience, the left-right combination that the two bring in has served India well over the years.
Furthermore, both step up their intensity in big matches and there are hardly any bigger games than between India and Pakistan, albeit in the virtual world. Hence, it really made sense to not tinker with opening combination.
In a surprise move, KL Rahul has been slotted at number three ahead of Virat Kohli. Apart from his T20I numbers, which are second to none, KL Rahul has scored a T20I century batting at Number 3. It was the first T20 International on India's tour of England in July, 2018 when the skipper was gracious enough to let Rahul come in at Number 3 and it worked for India as they won the match by 8 wickets.
To add to that, Rahul is only one of the three Indian batsmen alongside Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina to score a T20I century and it would be extremely harsh to leave him out. Hope the skipper won't mind batting at number 4, as he has done on a few occasions in the past as well.
Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya provide the firepower at 5 and 6. Rahul has been picked as a pure batsman while MS Dhoni pips Rishabh Pant for the the wicketkeeper-batsman spot. Pant has not been able to deliver in recent times despite all his talent and the backing of the team management. Plus, the match awareness of MSD is always welcome.
Both wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been picked. While they run the risk of going for runs, opportunities for wickets are also always around the corner with them.
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are the new-ball bowlers, who will be assisted by Pandya. There is risk of Pandya, the fifth bowler, going for some runs off his two overs but with Ravindra Jadeja not in the squad, this feels like the most potent playing XI possible.
Will the match turn out to be something like the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy or like the 2019 World Cup? Follow live ball-by-ball coverage on PitchVision.com.
Here are the playing XIs:
Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir
India - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (WK), Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
A Leading Edge, Cricket World and PitchVision are very much looking forward to bringing you the first of the two-match series on Tuesday 2nd June at 11am (GMT).
Updates can be followed on Twitter through @aleadingedge1, @Cricket_World @pitchvision, but ball by ball updates and live scoring can be followed on the PitchVision web site.
Points will be awarded as follows; win 3 points, tie 1 point, loss 0 points.
A Leading Edge very much look forward to bringing you the first ever #DiceCricket International Cricket Series, and can't wait for you to join them for the live toss at 10:45am in Karachi for Game 1 on Tuesday 2nd June.
© Cricket World 2020