The evening of October 24 will see the Dubai International Stadium house one of the most historic and mouth-watering clashes in cricketing history as the Virat Kohli-led Team India will lock horns with arch-nemesis Pakistan in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on Sunday.
After almost a two-year hiatus, Virat Kohli and Co. face-off against Babar Azam-led Pakistan in this highly anticipated encounter which will also be the Indian skipper’s swansong with the captaincy tag. Pakistan is yet to get a one-up over their rivals in World Cups as the head-to-head has been heavily dominated by the Men in Blue.
However, both teams have entered the tournament with a fresh perspective, filled to the brim with enormous young talent and the hunger and eagerness to prove themselves on the biggest stage of them all.
Virat will be eyeing a huge victory over their rivals to establish their foothold, which will also set the precedent and momentum in the marquee tournament. The mentorship of MS Dhoni will help in resonating a positive mindset and confidence amongst the Indian team.
Exceptional performances topped by victories in the two warm-up games against England and Australia have been massive boosts for young talents like Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Rahul Chahar, who have showcased their talent and skill ahead of the opener. The opening pair of KL Rahul and ‘Hitman’ Rohit Sharma have shown their prowess and never cease to impress.
Jasprith Bumrah’s magic with the white ball will be looking to shut down the dangerous early efforts of Babar Azam with the bat.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports show ‘Class of 2007’, former Team India all-rounder Irfan Pathan spoke about Virat Kohli’s men in the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
“I think nobody expected anything from the 2007 team, but there are a lot of expectations from the current World Cup squad. The new team has expectations and experience. When we entered the 2007 T20 World Cup, we hardly had the experience of playing in T20 format. But now, things are different, people play IPL, they play a lot of T20 games and there are a lot of conversations around T20 format,” Pathan expressed.
“In 2007, there was no social media, but now there is social media, so there are lot of conversations around performances and memes. I think the boys know that there are lot of expectations from them and they know how to handle it,” he added.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports show ‘Class of 2007’, veteran Team India wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik spoke about the Indian squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, “I completely agree with what Irfan said. It’s completely different in terms of handling pressure, but one thing is very different today to what it was in 2007 is the fact that they have plenty of IPL experience and they have played in high pressure games and they have played in matches which are – when it comes to pressure, it’s second to none.”
Meanwhile, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, RP Singh, Ajit Agarkar aslo shared their thoughts on who will be Team India’s X factor in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Gautam Gambhir: “Jasprit Bumrah!”
Harbhajan Singh: “I think if I have to choose one, I will Rohit Sharma. I think he’s going to be the key!”
Dinesh Karthik: “I will put my money on Hardik Pandya and Varun Chakravarthy. I think these two can make the difference in T20 World Cup.”
Ajit Agarkar: “Rohit Sharma & Jasprit Bumrah. I think Rohit could be the key, opening the innings and Bumrah with what he does.”
RP Singh: “Jasprit Bumrah!”
Irfan Pathan: “I think Jasprit Bumrah and his opposite end. I think the two bowlers who will bowl in the last overs are crucial.”
Record-breaker and captain of the Pakistan team, Babar Azam is the perfect example of ‘letting the bat do the talking’. His 50 off 41 balls against the West Indies in the warm-up game is a warning sign for India because once the 27-year-old gets going with the bat, he transforms into a beast, who is very difficult to contain.
Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez bring a comforting amount of experience to the Pakistani side, their previous meetings with India in past world cups will be a definite advantage for the team. Shaheen Afridi, a 21-year-old prospect proven in the Pakistan Super League, has dished out top performances in both warm-up games by picking up a total of 4 wickets. Hasan Ali looks to be the standout pacer for the Men in Green.
The lanky pacer excels at a slower wicket in the UAE, his variations and lengths will be a tough task for the Indian batters to manage against.