World Cup 2019: India-Pakistan combined XI
The 22nd match of ICC World Cup 2019 will see India take on Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester. Pakistan lost their last game to Australia by 41 runs whereas India's last game against New Zealand was washed out.
Here, we have compiled the best XI from the Indian and Pakistani World Cup squads, taking their recent form into account.
Imam-ul-Haq, Rohit Sharma
Imam-ul-Haq has provided solidity to Pakistan at top of the order. He is not as flamboyant as Fakhar Zaman, but he has been a consistent performer.
After being cheaply dismissed in Pakistan’s opening encounter against West Indies, he bounced with back scores of 44 and 53 against England and Pakistan respectively.
Partnering him at the top will be Rohit Sharma. Sharma hit a placid century against a hostile pace attack consisting of Kagiso Rabadda and Chris Morris, and followed it up with a half-century against Australia to lay the foundation for India’s win on both occasions.
Note: Shikhar Dhawan hasn't been considered as his further participation in the tournament is under doubt.
Virat Kohli (C), Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez
After a quiet game against South Africa, Virat Kohli was back at his best versus Australia. His 82 off 77 balls gave India the impetus after a solid start.
Kohli has been proactive with his captaincy too; his strategy to deploy three slips against Quinton de Kock bore ample fruit. Even in the game against Australia, he set close fields to deny easy singles and rotated his bowlers well to slow down the pace of the game.
Since making his debut, Babar Azam has stabilized Pakistan's middle-order. He averages 50 in ODIs and strikes at 86.15.
There is no obvious weak link in Azam's batting. He rotates the strike against spinners, hits crisp drives against pacers and is also a good player of short-pitched bowling (Pakistan’s traditional weakness). He scored an unblemished 50 versus England that set up a Pakistani victory.
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez has been their highest run scorer thus far. His 146 runs have come at an average of 48.67 and an impressive strike-rate of 108.15. He has also troubled batsmen with his crafty off-spin, notably England, against whom he picked up the key wicket of star all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Wicketkeeper and all-rounder
MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya
After a patchy 2017 and 2018, MS Dhoni has been in fine form this year. He is batting with greater freedom and has been scoring some crucial runs.
Dhoni hit a hundred in the warm-up game, and played a nice cameo against Australia. It goes without saying that he has continued to assist Kohli in the field.
Hardik Pandya's three-dimensional skills make him an indispensable member of the team. His assault against the Aussies lifted India past the 350-mark. In the field, he has been acrobatic and with the ball, he has mixed up his variations nicely to fill in the fifth bowler’s quota.
Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
Mohammed Amir seems back to his best. The swing and seam movement that he has extracted from the surface have made life difficult for the openers.
Moreover, Amir has bowled shrewdly, especially at the back end of the innings – using well disguised slower balls and yorkers to curtail the run flow. His 5-fer bundled out Australia for 307 when they looked set for a score in excess of 350.
Pakistan recalled Wahab Riaz for the World Cup and he hasn’t disappointed. Riaz has bowled with aggression and pace. If not for dropped catches his figures would have been much more impressive.
Widely regarded as the best bowler in the world, Jasprit Bumrah has lived up to the hype. He has bowled with venom and has looked unplayable at times.
Bumrah tied down the South African openers before picking them off. And versus Australia, he exhibited his death bowling skills – mixing dipping slower balls with pinpoint yorkers.
Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal produced a masterclass in leg-spin against South Africa and claimed match figures of 4/51. Against Australia, he scalped the wickets of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell at crucial junctures to help India register a win.
Chahal's accuracy coupled with his variations have posed a big threat to opposing teams in the middle-overs.
Also read - Highest partnerships by wicket in world cup