The unending wait is finally going to end when India Vs Pakistan takes place in the second match of Group B at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
The build-up to ‘The Clash’ started long ago as tickets were sold out within moments after the sale started. Though players from both the teams term it as just another match, it is a moment of truth for the millions of fans across the globe. India enjoys a colossal dominance over Pakistan in the World Cups, but the latter leads 2-1 when it comes to Champions Trophy. While previously the battle of Indian batsmen and Pakistan bowlers mainly decided the outcome of the matches, now the equation is much more balanced.
Indian pacers have earned a considerable amount of reputation, whereas their counterparts have added on to their existing ones. Expect a riveting cricketing fiesta as these two teams lock horns at a neutral venue which will have no dearth of fans shouting their lungs out at the ground. On that backdrop, we take a look at the key players from both the teams who can play a crucial role in the context of the game-
Batsman – Virat Kohli
The past records in England are abysmal, and his IPL 10 performance was just a pale shadow of past season. And there are reports of a possible rift with outgoing coach Anil Kumble. But do these really count for someone like Virat Kohli, one of the best batsmen in ODIs? The Indian skipper may not in the midst of a purple patch, but knows very well the significance of performing on the big stage.
With a burning desire to win and having an unending appetite for runs, Kohli warmed up for Champions Trophy in style, scoring a fluent unbeaten half-century against New Zealand and showing very little signs of discomfort against the swinging ball outside off-stump, something which was his nemesis in the past tours. Having already scored two centuries against Pakistan in 10 ODI matches, Kohli would like to add a third as India look to make a winning start to the tournament.
Bowler – Mohammad Amir
Back in the same country which catapulted him to the high and low in his career, Pakistan’s prodigious fast bowling talent Mohammed Amir will be raring to make a mark from the very beginning of Champions Trophy. The comeback in last year’s tour of England did not bring Amir the same success as 2010, but this year the left arm quick looks rejuvenated with new firepower after a brief stint with Azhar Mahmood during the West Indies tour.
Short of match practice can be his only disadvantage against India, but Amir would draw inspiration his previous performance against the same opposition, especially in the two T20s in 2016. However the conditions in England will be entirely different, and his deadly combination of pace and swing can give a hard time to the Indian top order. If Amir regains his 2010 mojo, it could spell doom for Virat Kohli & Co.
All-Rounder – Hardik Pandya
Even after having an experience of just 7 ODIs, Hardik Pandya has become a vital cog in the playing XI, thanks to his all-round exploits in the game. The useful lower order batsman is touted as a game-changer in the T20s, but he equally effective in the ODI format too. Using the long handle to great effect, Hardik can clear the boundary without much hassle, but in English conditions it is his fast bowling skills that can be an added incentive for the ‘Men in Blues’.
His fiery knock of 80* (54) against Bangladesh in the warm-up game proved the Mumbai Indians boy is raring to make a mark in his first major ICC event. On top of that is his athletic fielding, which makes Hardik the one to watch out for against Pakistan.