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Indian opener Shubman Gill during practice in Ahmedabad on Friday. Image Credit: Reuters

Ahmedabad: Recuperating Shubman Gill is set to return to the Indian team after skipper Rohit Sharma confirmed that the opener, who was down with dengue, has a 99 per cent chance of playing in the important World Cup match against Pakistan in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

During the prematch press conference on Friday, Rohit Sharma, responding to Gill’s current status with the team and his potential inclusion in the line-up, said: “There’s a 99 per cent chance he (Gill) will play. We’ll make the final call tomorrow (Saturday).”

Pleasing news for Indian team

It is a pleasing news that the Indian team management and the fans must be eagerly awaiting to hear after a horrendous start to the Men in Blue’s campaign opener against Australia where they were down three wickets for two runs.

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Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Kuldeep Yadav limbering up ahead of a training session. Image Credit: ANI

Ishan Kishan redeemed himself from the wild stroke that cost his wicket against Australia by giving India a solid start against an Afghanistan attack that didn’t have the bite on a good wicket. In that context, after skipper Rohit Sharma’s record seventh century in the World Cup during the eight-wicket win over Afghanistan in the previous clash, Gill will be a perfect foil for Rohit, giving the team the much-needed stability at the top of the order.

Gill had spent a couple of days in Chennai hospital after his platelets level dropped, but upon recovering significantly, the 24-year-old reached Ahmedabad a day earlier than the rest of the team and underwent an extensive training at the nets, announcing his readiness to be part of the team on the big stage. With Virat Kohli and KL Rahul also among the runs, the Indian batting is running like a well-oiled machine. Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s 4-39 on Wednesday gave the Indian bowling unit a boost ahead of Saturday’s match.

Playing down the hype

India came into the World Cup as the top-ranked ODI team and lived up to the billing of tournament favourites with a six-wicket win over five-time winners Australia. Rohit played down the hype around the tournament’s most anticipated fixture. “For us it’s crucial that we don’t worry about external factors and just look at things we can control,” Rohit said after his blistering 131 in New Delhi.

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Virat Kohli playing football on the eve of the World Cup match against Pakistan. Image Credit: Reuters

“We just need to show up and do well. Things like what the pitch is like, what combo we can play is what we can control. What happens outside, we won’t be worried about it.”

Buoyed by a record run chase, Babar Azam’s Pakistan are on the hunt for their first ever World Cup win over India in Saturday’s blockbuster in a 132,000-capacity arena.

Record chase

India and Pakistan only play against each other in international tournaments. Any meeting between them always raises fan interest with millions watching around the globe in a bonanza for broadcasters and sponsors. Both teams remain unbeaten coming into the match at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium.

This is Pakistan’s first match after their record World Cup chase of 345 against Sri Lanka, with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan scoring an unbeaten 131 and Abdullah Shafique making 113.

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Pakistan's Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz having a laugh during a practice session. Image Credit: AFP

“We now have momentum,” Rizwan said after his man of the match show in Hyderabad. “But they will also come with a plan, we will also come with a plan.”

Fiery bowling attack

Pakistan boast a fiery bowling attack led by left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi but they still conceded 344 runs to Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Top-ranked ODI batsman Azam is yet to fire and has scores of five and 10 in Pakistan’s two victories.

Pakistan have never won against India in the World Cup in their seven outings since 1992. Their previous loss was by 89 runs in a rain-hit league match of the 2019 edition in Manchester.

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Pakistan skipper Babar Azam warms up before a practice session in Ahmedabad on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Fans desperate to watch the match have even booked beds in city hospital wards after hotels ran out of rooms.

By signing up for health check-ups and overnight stays in private hospitals, the accommodation has proved a cheaper option with some hotels hiking rates by as much as 10 times.

The match is sold out with media reporting that scalpers are asking for eight times the original price for tickets.

— With inputs from AFP