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Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah discuss during a practice session ahead of India's World Cup match. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: India got into rhythm with a victory over Ireland. Though it was a straight forward game without complications, it helped India to get their team combination right apart from setting new roles for players.

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The Men in Blue have been on the road during the two-month long Indian Premier League. While they must be exhausted after playing at least 14 games during the gruelling season, but it has also kept the players match-fit and ready for the showpiece.

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While it’s been an easy lung-opener against Ireland, India have greater challenge against Pakistan, who have the firepower to test the best. It is just a Group game for India, but Pakistan must win the much-awaited game to keep their hopes alive. Generally, Pakistan are slow starters in World Cups but have the capability to raise their game.

Gulf News takes a look at the five talking points ahead of the crucial clash between the Asian giants on Sunday evening.

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Rohit Sharma survived an early scare on a difficult pitch in New York to score a half-century. Image Credit: AFP

The Long Island pitch

The drop-in wicket in New York has kept the batters guessing. The uneven bounce and prodigious movement off the pitch has ensured low scores in the two games played on the track. It assists the spinners and pacers, and on a few occasions batters have been hit on the body due to the occasional steep bounce. “New ground, new venue, wanted to see what’s it like to play on. I don’t think the pitch has settled down, there was enough there for the bowlers. Good to get the points,” Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said after winning the match against Ireland. “You have to stick to your basics, think about Test match bowling.”

Depth in India’s batting and bowling

India have plenty of depth in batting and bowling, and the decision to open with Virat Kohli has allowed skipper Rohit Sharma to include four all-rounders in the middle order. The team that played against Ireland had eight quality batters and seven bowlers — five fast bowlers including Shivam Dube. Should India decide to retain the winning combination, then the batting goes all the way to Axar Patel at No 8. Even if India lose early wickets, the depth will give them the freedom to continue to play positively.

The wicket assists spinners as well, hence both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar could play their part. If there is one are of concern, it is the unpredictability of young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh. He can be brilliant at times but be below-par sometimes.

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Hardik Pandya picked up three wickets with his medium-pace bowling against Ireland. The all-rounder will be a key player against Pakistan. Image Credit: AFP

Kohli and Pandya are key players

Rohit found his scoring touch with a half-century against Ireland. However, Kohli will be vital for India. As in the past, Rohit will be the aggressor while Kohli looks at taking the contest deep, like he did against Pakistan in the 2022 Twenty20 World Cup in Melbourne. If Kohli gets out early, then Rishabh Pant must drop anchor. In that scenario Hardik Pandya’s role becomes crucial to give finishing touches. Pandya, who didn’t have a good IPL season this year, is also a vital component in bowling.

Pakistan’s pace firepower

It won’t be easy for India against possibly the best pace bowling attack in the World Cup. Taking them on a wicket with plenty of assistance will be a daunting task. “When you come here and the ball is seaming around with some bounce and pace, I would never complain,” Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah said after his match-winning performance. “Once the seam goes down, the pitch does settle down. You have to be prepared to bowl in all conditions.”

While Bumrah and the Indian pacers aim to use the conditions to the best, Pakistan pacers will be eager to make the most and give their team the first points after the stunning loss against the USA.

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Pakistan players celebrate a wicket during their Group A match against USA. The Green Shirts will be keen to get back to the winning ways in this World Cup. Image Credit: AFP


The toss will play a big role as batting first is proving tricky. The captain who wins the toss will have no hesitation in electing to bowl on a fresh pitch that has been difficult to bat early on. Batting second is a shade better with the ball behaving better. It is unfortunate that such a high-voltage contest hinges on the outcome of the spin of the coin. So patience is the key for the team batting first.