As the India vs Pakistan match at Eden Gardens draws closer, we look at the key battles surrounding the fixture. Keep an eye out for these head-to-heads and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top at the end of day. India began its World T20 campaign with a shock 47 run loss to New Zealand while Pakistan got to the best possible start with a convincing 55-run win against Bangladesh.
Virat Kohli vs Mohammad Amir
They’ve displayed a lot of mutual admiration for each other over the past few weeks. The tainted bowler draws differing opinion on his return to sport but Kohli has termed his comeback as ‘courageous’ and a world class bowler. Kohli also handed his bat as a gift to Amir on Friday. But come Saturday evening, it will be a contest between the two heavily competitive cricketers and the gloves will be off. During the Asia Cup, Amir tormented the Indian top order but he couldn’t replicate that dominance on Kohli. The Indian vice-captain displayed patience and excellent technical capability to keep the bowler in check and help India to victory.
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Rohit Sharma vs Mohammad Irfan
Together with Amir, Mohammad Irfan forms a strong bowling lineup for the Pakistani front pair. But given Rohit’s form and his ability to thump anyone and everyone at Eden Gardens, Irfan is unlikely to stand a chance against the Mumbai batsman. Having faltered against New Zealand and against Pakistan at the Asia Cup too, Rohit would be eager to put the record straight.
Shahid Afridi vs India’s spin
It is fair to say that taking down Afridi would need a collective effort. More so after his sensational knock of 49 runs from 19 balls against Bangladesh in the first match. ‘Lala’ was under pressure to perform coming into the tournament and he proved his critics wrong with the bat and the ball too (2/27). How the likes Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina combat the threat of his massive sixes will be an interesting encounter.
Ahmed Shehzad vs Ashish Nehra
Shehzad, after not being picked for the Asia Cup, returned to the squad and hit a fifty against Bangladesh. Then Shehzad barely faced any real threat from the Bangladeshi bowlers who bowled short and lacked any conviction to put the batsman on the back foot or force any mistakes. But that would change when he faces the swing bowling of Ashish Nehra who has been in good form while making a comeback of his own.
Mohammad Hafeez vs Ravichandran Ashwin
Hafeez provided support to Shehzad in the match against Bangladesh with 64 runs from 42 balls. He was only removed after Soumya Sarkar rose highest to take a splendid catch at the ropes. Then Hafeez, like other Pakistan batsmen, didn’t get much of a challenge. But with Ashwin as the front line spinner, it could become tricky for Hafeez to relax his arms as it did the other day.