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India and Pakistan Prepare for Thrilling Clash in Asia Cup 2023

This coming Saturday, brace yourself for a cricket spectacle as India and Pakistan gear up to face off at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy, reigniting their storied rivalry in the Asia Cup 2023 Group A showdown.

While most of the Indian players are returning from a well-deserved break, Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, enters the tournament on a high note, having recently secured a convincing 3-0 victory against Afghanistan in an ODI series. They continued their momentum with a resounding 238-run win over Nepal in Multan. As the top-ranked men’s ODI team in the world, Pakistan now faces the formidable challenge of taking on Rohit Sharma’s Indian squad.

However, India finds itself in a selection dilemma with KL Rahul nursing a “minor niggle” that rules him out of the first two matches of the Asia Cup 2023, including the much-anticipated clash against Pakistan on September 2nd and the encounter against Kandy on September 4th. In Rahul’s absence, the backup keeper in the 17-man squad, Ishan Kishan, is expected to get the nod over Sanju Samson, who serves as the 18th man, the traveling reserve, and will only step in if KL Rahul or another batsman is ruled out.

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According to reports from The Indian Express, Ishan Kishan is likely to fill a middle-order role in the initial two matches in place of KL Rahul. Despite his success as an opener, Kishan may bat at number 4, with Shreyas Iyer moving down to Number 5.

This decision would require Ishan Kishan to adapt to a new position. In six ODI innings as an opener, he boasts an impressive average of 70, including a remarkable double century against Bangladesh and three half-centuries, all achieved in the recent West Indies ODI series. However, his middle-order record is less prolific, with an average of only 30 in the 10 innings he’s batted at numbers 3 and 4 in ODIs. Nevertheless, despite these varying statistics, the consensus from Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma seems to be leaning towards Ishan Kishan for the critical middle-order role during KL Rahul’s absence.

With Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Virat Kohli anchoring the top three positions and the middle-order and all-rounder slots occupied by Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja, India’s anticipated playing XI for the Pakistan match is taking shape. Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah are expected to be automatic selections.

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The final two spots pose a selection challenge, with fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj vying for one place, but it’s unlikely that both will feature, especially in Pallekele, where spinners found ample assistance during the Bangladesh vs. Sri Lanka match. Given the spin-friendly conditions, India might opt for Axar Patel over Shardul Thakur as the third all-rounder in the side.

India’s probable playing XI against Pakistan: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur/Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj/Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.