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Will India Bring In Kuldeep Against Pakistan?

June 08, 2024 12:33 IST
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IMAGE: If the pitch offers turn and bounce, Kuldeep Yadav can prove to be a handful for the Pakistan batting line-up. Photograph: BCCI

After their convincing victory in the opening match against Ireland, India will be brimming with confidence ahead of their crucial match against Pakistan in New York on Sunday.

On the other hand, Pakistan will be reeling after their shocking defeat against hosts USA just two days ahead of the big game against India on Sunday.

Their confidence would have taken a severe beating and it remains to be seen if they can get their mojo back for the crucial match against India, which is vital for their hopes for making it to the next round.

India's pacers feasted on an unexpected seamer-friendly wicket at the Nassau county international cricket stadium, to send their opponents collapsing for a lowly 96 in 16 overs.

Arshdeep Singh showed he was a deserved pick for the T20 World Cup with a superb two-wicket burst in his second over, while Mohammed Siraj also proved to be quite difficult to tackle with the new ball, while Jasprit Bumrah was virtually unplayable as he took 2/6 in three overs.

But the biggest positive among the bowlers was Hardik Pandya's performance. He played his part to perfection as the fourth seamer, claiming 3/27 to rip apart the Ireland batting in the middle overs.

In the batting too, Rohit Sharma's cracking knock of 52 from 37 balls was a welcome relief for the Indians after he failed to live up to expectations in IPL 2024.

Virat Kohli was picked as the opener ahead of Yashasvi Jaiswal but he failed to leave an impact as he fell for one but Rishabh Pant adapted to his new role at No. 3 as he stroked a fluent 36 from 26 balls as India cruised to victory in the 13th over.

It remains to be seen if a similar pitch is prepared for the India Pakistan game.

The drop-in pitch is a big concern ahead of Sunday's match. In the India-Ireland match, the uneven bounce from the cracks was the big talking point. Rohit Sharma had to go off the field for treatment after getting hit by a length ball which took alarmingly from pace bowler Joshua Little.

Sri Lanka were bowled out by South Africa for 77 at the same venue on Monday and there are reports that the Indian team management is clearly unhappy with the quality of the pitch and has sounded out the ICC on the same.

With the pitch offering so much help to the bowlers, the toss could become a crucial factor as teams bowling first have a clear advantage.

India are likely to go in with the same bowling attack but they will do well to consider wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

If the pitch offers turn and bounce, Kuldeep can prove to be a handful for the Pakistan battling line-up.

He is yet to play against Pakistan in T20 Internationals and his mystery factor could come in handy. He took 16 wickets in 11 games in IPL 2024 at an economy rate of 8.70, while in T20 Internationals played last year, he claimed 14 wickets in nine games at an economy rate of 5.97.

His good record against Pakistan in ODIs could title the scales in his favour, having taken 12 wickets in six games at an economy rate of 3.78, including a five wicket haul (5/25) against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in September last year and a miserly spell of 2/35 in the ODI World Cup in October.

Another big factor in Kuldeep's favour is how Pakistan collapsed against the USA's left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige, who took 3/30 in four overs.

India also need to wary of Pakistan's pace battery if the pitch offers uneven bounce as they become even more dangerous to bat against.

India are set to continue with Rohit and Kohli as the opener with all-rounder Shivam Dube also set to retain his place to provide the firepower in the death overs. But the only point of consideration would be whether to replace the third pace bowler with an extra spinner or replace either Ravindra Jadeja or Axar Patel with Kuldeep or Yuzvendra Chahal.

Overall, India enjoy a superior head to head record against Pakistan in T20 World Cups, having won six of the seven matches played against them including the victory in the final of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007.

Their previous clash in the T20 World Cup turned out to be a memorable one for India, with Virat Kohli starring with an epic knock of 82 from 53 balls to take his team to a famous win at the MCG on October 23, 2022.

India also dominate the overall record in T20 Internationals against their neighbours with nine victories from 12 games.

Given how the two teams have started this edition of the T20 World Cup, it wouldn't be a surprise if India extend their superior record against Pakistan.

It remains to be seen if India continue with three pacers or bring in Kuldeep Yadav as the third spinner in place of a pace bowler.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj.

Who do you think should be part of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup match against Pakistan?

Please select your team from the list below and do post your playing XI in the message board below:

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