A number of duels can be expected as the biggest names from across the globe have gathered in Australia to vie for the top honours. TimesofIndia.com brings you the biggest of rivalries which can add further adrenaline to the tournament’s excitement.
Haris Rauf vs Rohit Sharma
Pakistan boast a fearsome pace bowling attack with Haris Rauf emerging as a fast-improving and vital cog in his team’s wheel. He has been the best bowler for Pakistan in the middle and death overs this year. His battle with Rohit Sharma, who loves to play the flick and pull against pacers, will be exciting to watch. The 28-year-old right-arm pacer in fact got the better of the Indian skipper in the Super Four clash of the Asia Cup last month. Rauf has taken two wickets in three T20Is he played against India so far. He also dished out a disciplined performance against India in the T20 World Cup last year.
Rohit will have to find a way to tackle Rauf’s yorkers and slower balls which are very difficult to score runs off. He needs to fire on all cylinders as he has not been in the best of form this year. His record against Pakistan (110 runs in 10 T20I matches) is also something he would like to improve on.
Rauf has already fired a warning to India, saying “If I give my best, they won’t be able to play me easily. For the upcoming World Cup match, I’m very happy because it is at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is my home ground because I play for the Melbourne Stars and I have the idea of how the conditions play out there. I’ve already started planning how I would bowl against India.”
Shaheen Afridi vs Virat Kohli
The memories of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s spell against India in the T20 World Cup last year (3/31, with the wickets of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli) are still fresh in everybody’s mind and the Pakistan’s bowling spearhead is again expected to pose a serious threat to the Indian batters. He missed out on the previous two matches against India in the Asia Cup due to a knee injury. His face off with Virat Kohli will be on the fans’ radar as they wait to see how the Indian batsman adjusts himself against the left-arm pacer’s swinging deliveries.
But Kohli will remain one of the greatest Indian batting threats for any opposition and the best part is Kohli found his sublime touch back this year with 485 runs in 14 matches. He also smashed his maiden T20I century along with four fifties. The glimpses of ‘Vintage Virat’ were on full display during the Asia Cup and the bilateral series against Australia and South Africa. Kohli now takes time to settle in before he gets going and starts dominating the bowlers.
Suryakumar Yadav vs Naseem Shah
Another promising battle which can potentially enthrall audiences during the Indo-Pak clashes is the one between Suryakumar Yadav and Naseem Shah. If India has X factor in their team it will surely be Suryakumar Yadav, who has established himself as the team’s number one batter in the shortest format.
Termed as India’s version of AB de Villiers by former South African pacer Dale Steyn, SKY, as he is fondly called by his fans, has all the shots in the book and owns an envious record already, having made nine fifties and a hundred in 34 T20 Internationals at a staggering strike rate of 176.81.
The 19-year-old Naseem, who has become Pakistan’s new pace sensation in a short time, made his debut in T20Is against India during the Asia Cup and took two wickets including the prize scalp of Suryakumar. Now the World Cup match will throw another chance to both the players to engage in a fierce competition.
Mitchell Starc vs Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler may not be among the top 10 batsmen in T20I cricket currently, but he found his mojo at the right time in the recently concluded T20I series against Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup. Buttler is arguably the hardest batsman to bowl to when he is in the zone but it will be interesting to see how he comes out when he faces Australian pacer Mitchell Starc.
Starc, one of the best left-arm pacers in the world, has the ability to bowl precise yorkers at will and can trouble any batsman with his sheer pace and accuracy. He has been one of the most prolific bowlers in Australian conditions and is the second highest wicket-taker in T20Is at home with 21 scalps in 17 matches.
Mohammed Shami vs Mohammad Rizwan
The India-Pakistan Super 12 match will see another blockbuster clash between Mohammed Shami and Mohammad Rizwan. The world number one ranked T20I batsman Rizwan has been India’s nemesis, scoring 193 runs in three matches at an astonishing average of 96.50.
Rizwan has been a consistent performer for Pakistan. For the records, he is the highest run-scorer in T20Is in this year and also finished as the highest run-scorer in the Asia Cup 2022.
Drafted into the Indian squad as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, Shami will look to unsettle Rizwan early.
Shami put the concerns over his fitness to rest with a sensational 20th over in the warm-up match against Australia as India pulled off a six-run win. The right-arm experienced pacer landed yorker after yorker and ended up taking three wickets in that over.