Team India is set to reignite its rivalry with Pakistan when the two teams meet in their respective tournament opener of T20 World Cup 2021 on Sunday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai. Virat Kohli’s last assignment as India’s T20I captain will start with a big test against the arch-rivals. The India-Pakistan rivalry has witnessed several memorable performances by players from either side - be it Sachin Tendulkar’s iconic 98 in the 2003 World Cup or Javed Miandad’s last-ball six in Sharjah. The stakes get higher automatically when these two teams clash against each other and it also test the characters of the players about how much they can strive under pressure.
The upcoming T20 World Cup clash will also witness some world-class players looking to display their skills and help their team prove its mettle in the mega contest. Here are the players to look out for in India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup Clash:
Virat Kohli: Despite not scoring a century for the last two years, the 32-year-old still remains the key player for India. He enjoys a great record against Pakistan with 254 runs in 6 matches at a sublime average of 84.66. The last time when the two teams met - in the 2016 T20 WC - Kohli smashed an unbeaten 55 to guide India to a clinical six-wicket win. He is currently India’s highest-ranked T20I batsman sitting comfortably at the fourth position. However, the Indian skipper is hungry to score runs after a sedate IPL 2021 by his own lofty standards. Kohli had scored 405 in 15 matches at an average of 28.92.
KL Rahul: The flamboyant opener is one of the most consistent batters for the Men in Blue in the T20 format. In the recently concluded IPL 2021, Rahul amassed a total of 626 runs at an average of 62.60 to finish third on the Orange Cap tally. He carried on his form to the T20 WC warm-up matches and played 51 and 39-run knocks against England and Australia respectively. It will be Rahul’s first T20I match against Pakistan but their batting consultant Matthew Hayden has already claimed that the 29-year-old is a major threat for his team.
Jasprit Bumrah: The 27-year-old will lead India’s pace attack in the T20 World Cup and his first test is up against Pakistan. Bumrah has been one of the most consistent bowlers in all three departments for the past couple of years. He has been the go-through bowler for skipper Kohli whenever he needs a breakthrough. In the recently concluded IPL, Bumrah claimed 21 wickets in 14 matches and finished third on the purple cap tally. He also bowled well in the warm-up clash against England where he end up with an economical figure of 1/26 in his quota of four overs. He has only played two T20Is against Pakistan in his career so far in which he claimed two wickets and on Sunday, the 27-year-old has an opportunity to add more to the tally.
Babar Azam: ICC’s number 2 ranked T20I batsman is going to be a very crucial player for Pakistan in the high-octane clash against India. For the past three-four years, the Pakistan batting line-up has revolved around Babar and his T20I stats speaks for himself. He has scored 2204 runs in 64 matches at an average of 46.89 which makes him one of the most consistent performers in the shortest format in recent times. Babar has not played against India in the shortest format, meanwhile, in ODIs, he has not been able to live up to the expectations against the Asian giants. In the five ODIs, Babar has scored 158 runs against India at an average of 31.60. In the warm-up matches, also he looked a little off-colours during his 50 and 15-run knocks against West Indies and South Africa respectively.
Shaheen Afridi: The tall and strapping left-arm pacer is touted as the next big thing in Pakistan cricket and to put some weight behind those claims he has to come up big against India on Sunday. At the very young age of 21, Afridi has become an integral part of the Pakistan cricket team and skipper Azam relies heavily on him to provide the breakthroughs at difficult situations. Afridi has 32 scalps in the 30 T20Is, however, on Sunday he will play against India for the first time in the shortest format. In the only ODI he played against India, Afridi remained wicketless. However, the Indian batters have often seen struggling against the left-arm pacers who have the ability to swing the ball and Shaheen fits the category quite well.
Hasan Ali: Pakistan’s premium pacer is going to play a crucial role for his team with the ball versus the batting-heavy Indian team. Ali, who is known for his aggressive bowling style, has not played a T20I match against India so far in his career. On Sunday he will get an opportunity to make the most of his maiden T20I versus India. In the warm-up clashes, he enjoyed success against the West Indies with an excellent bowling figure of 2/21 in four overs, however, the South Africa match didn’t go in his favour as he leaked 52 runs without taking any wickets.