14:43 Pakistan elect to bowl; India leave out Ashwin, Shami: India are playing five bowlers in their playing eleven with Hardik Pandya coming in as the all-rounder, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja are the specialist four bowlers.
Interestingly, India have left out their No. 1 spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, while Mohammed Shami also fails to make the cut.
Check out India’s playing eleven:
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (w/k), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain, w/k), Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali.
14:26 Welcome to the coverage of the high-profile clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy in Birmingham, on Sunday.
Defending champions India will be aiming to shut out off-field controversies when they lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening match of the tournament.
One of the finest fast bowlers in current times, Mohammed Amir would be pitted against the talismanic Virat Kohli in what could turn out to be a battle primarily between India’s vaunted batting line-up and against Pakistan’s potent bowling attack.
A line-up that boasts Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni can be intimidating for any bowling attack.
For India, the bone of contention will be their bowling combination, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya being the balancing factor.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are certainties. Umesh Yadav has more zip in his bowling after a successful Test season but Mohammed Shami has a variety of skill in his repertoire to trouble the best batsmen.
With Pakistan’s top-order full of right-handers, Ravichandran Ashwin will have a tough fight making it into the team in place of Ravindra Jadeja.
Like it or not, an Indo-Pak match is a bit different from other cricketing rivalries purely due to its socio-political significance.
The current cross-border tension between the South Asian neighbours also adds to the historical rivalry in which India have come up trumps more often than not in ICC competitions.
The unsavoury controversy related to his speculated rift with chief coach Anil Kumble couldn’t have happened at a more inappropriate time — just when India were going into an important ICC event.
While Champions Trophy is one ICC event where Pakistan enjoy a 2-1 head-to-head record against India but on paper, Kohli’s men are far superior in each and every department of the game.