The much-awaited contest of the Men’s Cricket World Cup is here. The host nation India will be sparring against their arch-rivals Pakistan in the match No.12 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. India under Rohit Sharma are off the blocks with two wins in two games, whereas Pakistan themselves are sailing smoothly with two wins of their own. Owing to the better net run-rate, India is holding the 3rd spot on the table and Pakistan is breathing down the neck in the 4th spot.

India has downed the mighty Australia and Afghanistan in their run so far and will look to continue the winning streak in Ahmedabad. Babar Azam & Co on the other hand have dealt with all the curveballs thrown at them and will be eager to inflict damage on Indian hopes. The good news for India is the fact that skipper Rohit Sharma and star players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul have all got runs under their belt. However, the bowling will be a concern for Team India going into this fixture.

Players to watch out for

V. Kohli

Narrowly missing out on his hundred against Australia, followed by a 55* against Afghanistan has set the star batter on the right track. Against the Aussies, it was him and KL who soaked in the pressure and batted their heart out to chase the total. It has always been Kohli to India’s rescue in the clutch moments and it won’t be a surprise to see him take up the mantle yet again in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

J. Bumrah

India’s leading pace bowler has rightly justified why he is the game-changer for his side with the ball in his hand. Overcoming a major injury, there were doubts or two concerning his performance for the marquee event but all the noise has been put to bed. With 2 wickets against Australia and then bagging 4 vs Afghanistan, he is leading the bowling attack from the front. What’s further more impressive is his economy rate of under 4.00 showcasing his skill and brilliance on the biggest stage of cricket.

H. Pandya

A rather surprise pick in this list but H. Pandya is also known to have clutch moments and the game against Pakistan in T20 Men’s World Cup last year was evidence that he is made for such games. There is a scope for improvement on his part with the bowling, but in this game, his bat will have to do a lot of talking owing to the lethal bowling attack the team will face.

M. Rizwan

M. Rizwan was on his lethal best in the game against Sri Lanka, his tally of 131* was instrumental in chasing the mammoth total of 345. Injuries, cramps, and bouncers were not enough for him to quit as he battled through all the hardships in ensuring the win for his side. A total of 199 runs so far in the tournament he will be eyeing to get back to the number one spot as the highest run-getter.

S. Afridi

S. Afridi has a history of being a thorn in the side of Indian batters and something similar will be expected of him. Despite just 2 wickets in 2 games so far, he is the sort of player that can never be counted out, especially in the game against India. His lethal left-arm pace attack during the powerplay overs is certainly a damaging prospect against which Indian batters will have to stand strong.

Predicted Playing X1

IND – R. Sharma [C], I. Kishan, V. Kohli, S. Iyer, KL Rahul [WK], H. Pandya, R. Jadjea, S. Thakur, K. Yadav, J. Bumrah, M. Siraj

PAK – A.Shafique, I-uL-Haq, B. Azam [C], M. Rizwan [WK], S. Shakeel, I. Ahmed, S. Khan, M. Nawaz, H. Ali, S. Afridi, H. Rauf

Fantasy Playing X1 Picks

Wicketkeeper – M. Rizwan

Batters – V. Kohli [C], B. Azam, R. Sharma [VC], A. Shafique

All-rounders – H. Pandya, S. Khan

Bowlers – J. Bumrah, S. Afridi, H. Rauf, K. Yadav

Match Prediction

Considering the run of form the Indian star players are in, on the back on home crowd support, the Indian team are favourite to win this contest. It is paramount for Indian batters to continue their strong run if they are to win this game. Ahmedabad can turn out to be a tricky challenge and given the strength of Pakistan’s bowling lineup, a case can be made for a major upset on the hands of Pakistan on India.