Team India will open their Super 12 campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan at a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday (October 23). With their second official warm-up game against New Zealand rained out on Wednesday (October 19), Rohit Sharma doesn’t have too much opportunity to experiment with the Playing XI now.

With Jasprit Bumrah ruled out with injury, India desperately need an experienced pacer to bowl in the death overs. Mohammed Shami will definitely be that pacer to partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh in the bowling attack. With rain hovering over Melbourne for Sunday’s clash, the pitch and conditions are likely to assist the seamers as well.

India may well opt for three pacers and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal as the specialist bowlers with all-rounder Hardik Pandya coming as the fifth bowler in the side. In the batting department, it is clear after Monday’s warm-up game against Australia that Dinesh Karthik will be preferred as wicketkeeper over Rishabh Pant.

India had earlier defeated hosts Australia by six runs in their first warm-up match in Brisbane on Monday. Against Australia, India rode on half-centuries from KL Rahul (57) and Suryakumar Yadav (50) to post 186 for 7, a target which they defended despite skipper Aaron Finch’s return to form with a 54-ball 76.

Drafted into the side in place of an injured Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami (3/4) starred for India with the ball in the final over, which effected four dismissals, including three wickets for the right-arm pacer.

Babar Azam’s Pakistan, on the other hand, will be buoyed by the return to form and fitness of their lead pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi. The tall paceman, who missed the Asia Cup 2022 due to knee injury was back bowling at his best in the second warm-up game against Afghanistan at the Gabba in Brisbane, picking up two wickets in his first two overs.

Afridi will be complemented by Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah in the pace department. All-rounders Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz will complete their bowling attack.

Batter Shan Masood is expected to start in the India game ahead of Fakhar Zaman looking at his current form in the recently-concluded New Zealand T20 tri-series.

India vs Pakistan Predicted Playing XI

India Predicted 11: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel/Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh

Pakistan Predicted 11: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi

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By Dipak

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