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In an interview four months back, Junaid Khan had said that he has a psychological edge over Virat Kohli. He was backing his statement with this stat: Junaid has dismissed Kohli three times in four ODIs. But all the talk is irrelevant on the ground. There is only one problem. Junaid will not take field when India and Pakistan play each other in their opening group game of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in Birmingham.
Pakistan named a 12-man team for the match and Junaid doesn’t feature in the list. Kohli will be relieved. Despite the fact that he has grown leaps and bounds since the 2012-13 series against Pakistan where Junaid troubled the Indian captain, he will be happy to not face Junaid on Sunday.
Junaid’s exclusion does weaken the Pakistan bowling attack that now has Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir. The pace trio has 181 wickets amongst them but will they be up to the mark against India?
If Pakistan want to cause an upset, their bowlers need to step up the game because the last time India lost to them in an ICC event was back in 2009 Champions Trophy.
Wahab remains the most experienced bowler of the lot and though he has 11 wickets in the 5 games he has played against India, his economy is higher that six which creates a problem for Pakistan. Hasan will be playing for the first time.
Now, Amir has a chance to impress in seaming conditions in England. He has played two matches against India and picked up two wickets. But, English conditions will be different and they will assist him.
Not only pacers, but Pakistan spinners need to step up as well. Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Hafeez and most likely Shadab Khan will roll their arms over. Spinners in India-Pakistan matches in the last decade haven’t really decided the game. On Saturday, they may, if rain permits.