Pakistan’s wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan can be a threat for India© AFP
The stage is set for the biggest cricketing rivalry to resume at the global stage. India vs Pakistan is the blockbuster clash slated to take place on Sunday evening in Dubai as the eternal rivals square up against each other in a Group 2 encounter of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup Super 12 stage. This will be the first match of the event for both the teams. Captains Virat Kohli and Babar Azam will be the players to watch out for in this colossal tie, but both teams have several match winners who can have a major impact on the outcome of the game. India go into the match knowing they have never been beaten in the global event of cricket’s shortest format by their rivals but that record will very much be on the line against an unpredictable Pakistan team.
Here are three key factors that Virat Kohli and his team will have to be careful about:
1) Pakistan’s strong top order
While a lot is said about India’s strong batting, it is Pakistan who have enjoyed great success in the shortest format off late due to the performance of their top order. Openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have been in cracking form in T20Is and will pose a huge threat to the Indians. Rizwan is the highest run-getter in T20s in 2021 with 1462 runs in 33 innings at a whopping average of 56.23. He has a century and 13 fifties to his name. Captain Babar isn’t too far away at number 2 with 1363 runs and has also scored 13 fifties and two centuries in the format.
When it comes to T20I runs, the duo of Babar and Rizwan have scored the most partnership runs for Pakistan for the opening wicket, averaging more than 50 with two century stands.
Add to that the threat of Fakhar Zaman at number three and India will be faced with a tough task to tame the top order. Fakhar is known for his vicious attacks in white-ball cricket and despite his dwindling form, he has been backed by the team management to perform at the big stage.
2) Rise of Shaheen Afridi
It is a well known fact that India’s right-handed batters have had problems against left-arm pacers. Pakistan will remember the problems posed by Mohammad Amir in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final against the Indian top order and would want Shaheen Afridi to do the same. The tall pacer has the ability to move the ball and bowls a good line and length too. Afridi might not have been at his best in T20Is this year but he has the game to trouble the best in the business.
3) Pakistan’s record and familiarity with Dubai
Pakistan are on a 6-match unbeaten run in T20Is in Dubai, which dates back to 2016. The venue has practically been their second home in the past few years as they have played a lot of their home series in the UAE. Babar Azam’s team also holds the record for most wins at the venue in this format with 15 triumphs from 25 outings. The Indian players have had good experience of playing in these conditions too as they played the entire IPL 2020 season here and the business end of this year’s tournament was also played in the UAE. But Pakistan know this venue really well and India need to keep that in mind when they get into the match, and make plans accordingly.
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