Who makes way for Mohammad Amir?
After missing the semi-final against England due to back spasm, speedster Amir is expected to be in Pakistan’s playing XI. Despite the left-arm pacer possessing a poor record against the Men in Blue, his experience paves way for him over youngster Rumman Raees, who earned his first international cap replacing Amir.
With Hasan Ali’s brilliant run with the ball in the tournament, Amir is more likely to come in the place of Raees. However, captain Sarfraz Ahmed may opt for three seamers and one spinner, looking at India’s strength against spin bowling. As Pakistan rely on their bowling, it will be important to see their strategy with the white ball in the summit clash against India at The Oval.
Can Pakistan bowlers rip-apart India’s top-order?
India’s top order consisting of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, has been at their lethal best, which has resulted in India’s successful run in the tournament. The Indian opening pair has provided steady starts and gradually accelerated in the middle overs which has eventually given the upcoming batsmen a chance to open up without wasting much of their time in the middle. 136 against Pakistan in their tournament opener, 138 against Sri Lanka followed by 23 against South Africa, the Indian team has flourished under the left-right hand combination.
Hence, if Pakistan bowlers can strike early and bring Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni to the crease, they have a chance of exploiting India’s strength.
Looking at Dhawan and Rohit’s form, Sarfraz will have to strike with his leg spinner Shadab Khan, who can trouble the Indian duo and push Indian on the back foot. Not to forget, captain Kohli’s poor records against Junaid Khan in limited over cricket. The right-handed batsman has been dismissed thrice by him.
Can the defending champions escape Pakistan’s middle order attack?
Pakistan’s success in the competition has to be attribute to young Hasan Ali. Just 23, Hasan has justified his selection as he is the leading wicket-taker with ten wickets and has conceded just 172 runs. The right-arm seamer has conceded just 2.60 runs per over between overs 31 and 40. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s spinners — Hafeez, Shadab, and Imad Wasim — have leaked runs from the other end, and have conceded runs at 4.71 runs per over. And this will be the key for India. If they can manage to dominate opponents spinners in the second powerplay, they will have an advantage over the Sarfraz-led side.
Can Fakhar and Azhar Ali provide them Dhawan-Rohit kind of opening stand?
Lately, Pakistan’s batting hasn’t been their strength in the tournament. However, if they manage to replicate the kind of start Fakhar and Azhar had against England, they can give Pakistan an edge over India. And with Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik to follow, Pakistan would want really depend on their openers to give them a solid and steady start against India’s seam bowling. And with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja not able to have an impact in the ongoing tournament, Pakistan can look to attack Indian spinners. However, Fakhar, who made his debut in the ongoing tournament, has struggled against short balls which gives Indian seamers a chance to strike hard against Pakistan openers.
How will the two teams cope in the death overs?
Both India and Pakistan’s middle order has spent very little time in the middle throughout the tournament. And if India’s top-order collapses, it will be important to see how Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya will fare under pressure in the decisive match. Whereas, Pakistan’s middle order, consisting of Hafeez and Malik, will have to tackle with India’s death bowler specialist Bumrah. Comparatively, Indian middle order has faced more deliveries when compared to that of Pakistan’s. India batsmen, who bat at five or lower down the order have scored at 9.23 runs per over facing 76 balls while the Pakistani batsmen have scored at the rate of 4.82 runs facing just 29 deliveries in the final 10 overs.