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India vs Pakistan: A Look At Possible Team Combinations

The Dubai International Stadium would be gearing up on October 24 for yet another chapter of the biggest rivalry in world cricket, India vs Pakistan. Fans from the neighbouring countries would be eager to make their way to Dubai to witness this mega event as both teams open their campaign in the 2021 T20 World Cup with this cracker of a match.

With the warm games played and done with, the focus would now be solely on getting the gameplay right for India vs Pakistan. The team combination would be key given this is going to be the first game for both sides and there’s a world-class squad to choose from.

Here are three possible theories the Indian team can explore to get the best combination on the night.

SIX BOWLERS THEORY

The biggest conundrum for the Indian team would be how to balance their XI with Hardik Pandya who is their premier all-rounder not bowling currently? Shardul Thakur was added late to the squad considering that Pandya isn’t ready to bowl yet and Thakur is handy with both facets of the sport.

If wickets in the UAE are going to be on the flatter side as we’ve seen all through the 2021 edition of the Indian T20 League as well as in a few warm-up matches of the World Cup, then Virat Kohli would love to have six bowling options in the eleven. The only realistic way to achieve this without hampering the batting depth is to include Shardul Thakur at number seven. He’d give the right balance to the batting as well as the bowling line up and this way Pandya could play as a pure batter.

This is how the playing XI could shape up as:

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Varun Chakravarthy/Rahul Chahar.

The above lineup gives the captain six bowling options with three spinners or three fast bowlers depending on the conditions. The only problem with this would be that the team wouldn’t have a pinch hitter at number eight and it reduces the batting depth.

FIVE BOWLERS THEORY

We’ve seen Virat Kohli’s teams in the past being bullish about their five genuine bowlers and stick with this strategy. This may not be the most sensible approach but the team could look at exploring this as well depending on the conditions on offer. This is a way to strengthen your batting lineup and can include a T20 gem at number four in the order.

This is how this theory looks like:

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav/Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin/Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy/Rahul Chahar.

WITH HARDIK OR WITHOUT?

If the team is backing Pandya as one of their biggest assets in the last phase of the innings then they’ll have to go with him, no questions asked. But if his recent form with the bat is to be taken into consideration then you could argue for including someone like Surya or Ishan in the XI ahead of Hardik purely on form. The duty of the finisher gets handed over to Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, two batters who are more than capable of executing the job.

This is how that would look like:

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav/Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Varun Chakravarthy/Rahul Chahar.

What the Indian management decides we will get to know minutes before the match, but the fans can be assured of a cracker of an encounter to be witnessed on Sunday.