India will be firm favourites when they face Pakistan in the Super 12 of the 2021 ICC T20 Men’s World Cup on Sunday. Captain Virat Kohli is at the helm for one of the most talented teams in the competition. It’s a different story for Pakistan, with Babar Azam’s squad unable to match the star power of their rivals.
The game at the Dubai International Stadium should be decided by India’s plethora of quality players. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli will thrive with the bat, while Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Chahar will lead the attack in style. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s best means of earning a shock win will be the bowling of pacer Shaheen Afridi.
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In the United States, the match (10 a.m. ET start time) isn’t on TV, but anyone in the US can watch India vs Pakistan live on ESPN+ right here:
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India vs Pakistan Preview
Kohli is surrounded by fellow stars from the Indian Premier League, including Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant. Sharma wasn’t at his best for the Mumbai Indians, but the veteran all-rounder is usually exceptional for his country. He gave a reminder of his excellence at international level by belting a 60 from 41 balls to help India beat Australia by eight wickets in a warm-up match on Wednesday.
It’s a similar story for Pant, whose right-handed batting style can enliven the middle order. Pant won’t be relied upon to make the India order tick. That responsibility will fall to Rahul, who can handle the role as a typically prolific presence at the crease. Rahul has arrived at the tournament in special form, having hit 51 during a warm-up win over England.
Having Rahul lead the way means Kohli can take the No. 3 spot in the Innings. It’s the right position for the 32-year-old to showcase his proficiency in this format. Pandya’s going to take the sixth spot, where his big hitting will make an impact.
Keeping a batting order this loaded under wraps is a daunting challenge, but Afridi has the skills to swing this match the way of Pakistan. ESPN Cricinfo’s Osman Samiuddin has explained how Afridi varies his deliveries and lulls batters into a false sense of security:
If you are right-handed, he is most probably going to go very full and bring it back into you. Sometimes it’s absolute banana-swing and if you’re lucky, it’s going to go down leg for wides, or strike you outside leg. Nice sighters when you think about it. Except, he is just tuning his radar.
Mixing things up will be the best way to put a dent in India’s strong top order. It’s why Azam should also let Imad Wasim attack the wicket. He’s another left-hander, but one who can take the pace off the ball, an ideal trait on the sluggish wicket in Dubai.
Making an impact in front of the wicket will be down to Azam. He’ll be dynamic as an opener, but Fakhar Zaman will once again be counted on to accelerate the run total from his place as third up in the order. Zaman proved the difference when Pakistan beat India in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy Final, reaching 50 in a match-winning knock. A repeat would give the Shaheens a great chance of producing another upset.