A number of duels can be expected as the biggest names from around the world have gathered in Australia to compete for the top honours. TimesofIndia.com brings you the biggest rivalry that can add further adrenaline to the tournament excitement.
Harris Rauf vs Rohit Sharma
Pakistan boast a fearsome bowling attack with Haris Rauf emerging as a fast-improving and vital cog in his side’s wheel. He has been the best bowler for Pakistan in the middle and overs this year. His battle with Rohit Sharma, who likes to play the flick and pull against pacers, will be exciting to watch. The 28-year-old right-arm pacer actually got the better of the Indian skipper in the Super Four clash of the Asia Cup last month. Rauf has taken two wickets in three T20Is he has played against India so far. He also put up a disciplined performance against India in the T20 World Cup last year.
Rohit will have to find a way to tackle Rauf’s yorkers and slower balls which are very difficult to score runs. He needs to be firing on all cylinders as he has not been in the best of form this year. His record against Pakistan (110 runs in 10 T20Is) is also something he would like to improve upon.
Rauf has already fired a warning to India saying, “If I give my best, they won’t be able to play me easily. For the upcoming World Cup match, I am very happy because it is at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is my home ground because I play for the Melbourne Stars and I have an idea of how the conditions play out there. I have already started planning how I will bowl against India.”
Shaheen Afridi vs Virat Kohli
The memories of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s game against India in the T20 World Cup last year (3/31, with the wickets of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli) are still fresh in everyone’s mind and the Pakistan bowling spearhead is expected to again poses a serious threat to the Indian batsmen. He missed the previous two matches against India in the Asia Cup due to a knee injury. His face-off with Virat Kohli will be on the fans’ radar as they wait to see how the Indian batsman adjusts against the left-arm pacer’s swinging deliveries.
But Kohli will remain one of the biggest Indian batting threats for any opposition and the best part is Kohli has regained his sublime touch this year with 485 runs in 14 matches. He also smashed his maiden T20I century along with four fifties. The look of ‘Vintage Virat’ was on full display during the Asia Cup and the bilateral series against Australia and South Africa. Kohli is now taking time to settle before he gets going and starts dominating the bowlers.
Suryakumar Yadav vs Naseem Shah
Another promising battle that may enthrall audiences during the Indo-Pak clashes is the one between Suryakumar Yadav and Naseem Shah. If India have X-factor in their team, it will surely be Suryakumar Yadav, who has established himself as the team’s number one batsman in the shortest format.
Dubbed as India’s version of AB de Villiers by former South African pacer Dale Steyn, SKY, as he is fondly called by his fans, has every chance in the book and already owns an enviable record, having scored nine fifties and scored a hundred in 34. T20 Internationals at a staggering strike rate of 176.81.
The 19-year-old Naseem, who has become Pakistan’s new pace sensation in a short span of time, made his debut in the T20Is against India during the Asia Cup and took two wickets, including the prize-spear of Suryakumar. Now the World Cup match will provide another chance for both players to take part in a tough competition.
Mitchell Starc vs Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler might not be among the top 10 batsmen in T20I cricket right now, but he found his mojo at the right time in the recently concluded T20I series against Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup. Buttler is probably the most difficult batsman to bowl to when he is in the zone, but it will be interesting to see how he fares when he comes up against Australian pacer Mitchell Starc.
One of the best left-arm pacers in the world, Starc has the ability to bowl precise yorkers at will and can trouble any batsman with his sheer pace and accuracy. He has been one of the most prolific bowlers in Australian conditions and is the second highest wicket-taker in T20s at home with 21 scalps in 17 matches.
Mohammed Shami vs Mohammad Rizwan
The India-Pakistan Super 12 match will see another mammoth clash between Mohammed Shami and Mohammad Rizwan. World number one T20I batsman Rizwan has been India’s nemesis, scoring 193 runs in three matches at an astonishing average of 96.50.
Rizwan has been a consistent performer for Pakistan. For the records, he is the highest run-scorer in T20Is in this year and also finished as the highest run-scorer in Asia Cup 2022.
Shami, who was included in the Indian squad as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, will look to upset Rizwan early.
Shami put fitness concerns to rest with a sensational 20th over performance in the warm-up game against Australia as India cruised to a six-run win. The right-arm experienced pacer landed yorker after yorker and ended up taking three wickets in that over.