Who's excited for Pakistan vs India on SundayWatch
Thankfully, they have experience: 9 out of the 15 were part of the squad that won the title in 2013. And they have fast bowlers that can overpower batsmen in English conditions: Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bumrah and U Yadav who all impressed vs NZ and Bangladesh in the warm-ups. Hardik is an excellent all-rounder too, striking 80 off 54 vs Bangladesh. But the opening situation needs to be resolved: they can pick between Dhawan (who averages 74 in England), Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. The latter struggled in the warm-up matches, while Rohit arrived late to the camp and faced three balls in his only innings.
Yuvraj has not played in England since the World T20 in 2009 and has been struck down with fever. If he is accommodated in the XI, India must decide whether he should he bat at No. 4 before Dhoni or should it be the other way round. If Hardik is picked, should India go with two other fast bowlers or drop a spinner to play three? India have won their last three ODI series, so form is on their side, and they have the luxury of five allrounders in Yuvraj, Kedar Jadhav, Ashwin, R Jadeja and Hardik. They have the best death bowler in B Kumar, and seamers capable of wreaking havoc. India have played 27 ODIs since 2015 - the least by any of the eight participants in the Champions Trophy.
But have exams right after a day
They have got rid of Azhar as captain, but there are reasons to be hopeful despite the No 8 ranking: Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali - and even Sarfraz Ahmed, the newly appointed captain.
Pakistan beat Wes t Indies 2-1 in their most recent ODI series, as Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam made match-winning hundreds and Mohammad Hafeez was the highest run-getter in the series with 201 runs at an average of 67. You imagine the likes of Amir will relish the greentops, but for me, it's all about Shadab: 10 wickets in four games. Pakistan will deploy Amir alongside Junaid Khan, who made his ODI comeback against Australia earlier this year, and Wahab Riaz. But it's not the bowling that's the issue, is it? Their ODI batting has been woeful for some time. Between 2012 and 2015, Pakistan's scoring rate in the first 10 overs was a mere 4.5 runs per and only gradually improved over the last two seasons and climbed to over 5. Sharjeel Khan, their best power hitter, has been lost in the wake of the PSL corruption case, while Umar Akmal was removed from the squad after failing a fitness test.
Malik is set to feature in his sixth CT, the most among current players. He made his tournament debut in 2002, and since then has played all editions of the tournament. He has scored 326 runs and taken 10 wickets in 15 CT games. But, worryingly, the last time a Pakistan batsman scored a century in the CT was in 2009 when Malik made 128 against India in Centurion. Ahead of the weekend, Pakistan will hope for better luck vs Kohli. Thus far in ODIs, Junaid has the most dismissals against him - just 3.
aka were gunna win!