As India get ready for title defense against arch rivals Pakistan tomorrow, it is worth taking a look at the lineups of the two teams for clues as to where the match will go and the cricket score board impact by key players. Defending champions India have never looked more balanced, with a strong batting lineup backed by the experienced off break Ravichandran Ashwin as well as pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav and a flourish of all rounders in the form of Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah. Their deep batting and bowling resources, as well the outstanding fielding their players have displayed, has allowed them to dominate ODI cricket for most of last two years, and this has showed in the tournament too, barring their loss to Sri Lanka. Pakistan, on the other hand, are placed No.8 and have not had a good time in the middle in recent years, struggling to make a transition after the retirement of key players like Misbah-ul-Haq and Yusuf Khan. Their batting lineup is brittle, and the bowling only has world-class pacers to boast, meaning no spinners. Luckily for them, the English conditions have suited well to the likes of Mohammad Aasif and Junaid Khan, and in Hasan Ali, they have found a middle and death overs bowler with the ability to both stem the flow of runs with accurate deliveries, and take wickets with his array of variations with the ball.
We showcase here three players from each side we expect to be key in tomorrow’s match, and each team will have to chalk up a strategy against the other team that is mindful of these players if they hope to win tomorrow.
1 Shikhar Dhawan :
He is being hailed as the Champions Trophy specialist, and with this 123* against Bangladesh, he has become the only batsman to score more than 300 runs in two Champions Trophy tournaments. He has looked in fine touch in English conditions, and Pakistan will have to figure out how to curb Dhawan, whose aggression and elegance have been a treat to watch in this tournament.
2 Virat Kohli :
The captain feeds off his own success with the bat, and getting him out cheaply will help Pakistan put pressure on him so he makes mistakes on the field. A naturally aggressive player, he can destroy any bowling attack with his perfect mixture of flair and grace. Surpassed 8000 run-mark in the last game, becoming the fastest player ever to do so, which must add to his confidence as a player and captain.
— ICC (@ICC) June 17, 2017
3 Jasprit Bumrah :
Jasprit Bumrah has been perfect in this tournament and apart from being stingy, the right-arm bowler has taken consistent wickets, striking four times in the tournament. The Gujarat pacer was of the opinion that a hint of reverse swing enabled him to come on top of the Bangladeshi batsmen towards the ends of the innings.
1 Sarfaraz Ahmad :
The skipper holds up the lower order of the Pakistani batting, and any run chase will eventually fall on his shoulders. He has shown exceptional captaincy in the last three matches, making amends for his mistakes in the India match, and we will expect him to grow in confidence. His half century against Sri Lanka may be the reason Pakistan came back from the dead to make it to the finals, and a similar captain’s knock is expected of Sarfaraz tomorrow.
2 Hasan Ali :
Best used in the middle and death overs, he is the top wicket taker of the tournament with 10 scalps. His three-fer helped clean up England for 211 in the semis, and he will be expected to lead the vanguard charge against India tomorrow.
3 Mohammad Aasif :
The swing bowler has always been India’s bane with his inswinging deliveries, and Pakistan will want him to remove India’s dangerous openers early, especially Dhawan. His combination with Junaid should restrict the Indian batting to a score that the Pakistani batting can chase, as they lack the resources to actually make a 300-plus chase.