Aakash Chopra has picked his preferred Indian playing XI for Sunday’s clash against New Zealand in Dubai. After losing to Pakistan, the Men in Blue will lock horns with the Kiwis in a must-win encounter for both teams.
The former opener, speaking in a video on his YouTube channel, said he doesn’t expect any changes in India’s batting order. He, however, batted for Suryakumar Yadav’s promotion to no.4, saying the middle-order looks better that way.
Aakash Chopra said:
“I see no changes in the batting order. I see Hardik Pandya playing and he should play as well. I do want you to shift Surya to No.4 and Rishabh (Pant) to No.5 because Rishabh at 5, Hardik (Pandya) at 6, and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) at 7 sounds a little better. There’s nothing to fear about the too many right-handers in the top order.”
Aakash Chopra then suggested a major change in the Indian bowling attack – Shardul Thakur replacing an out-of-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He also said India will have to be mindful of Varun Chakravarthy’s form and fitness, arguing that if he isn’t doing well in the nets, Ravichandran Ashwin or Rahul Chahar should come in.
Aakash Chopra added:
“I want Shardul Thakur to play in place of Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). You’ll have to think a bit about Varun Chakravarthy and how’s he bowling in the nets. If he’s doing well then play him because continuity is important. And if you feel that he isn’t bowling well or there’s some injury issue then it will be a toss-up between Rahul Chahar and Ashwin. The problem is if you play Chahar and Varun and also Shardul then your two out of five bowlers will be inexperienced. So there’s a case for Ashwin but the opposition doesn’t have many left-handers… it’s going to be a bit tricky. I expect Shardul to come in for Bhuvi and probably no other changes which are also alright.”
Kumar lacked his usual pace and vigor against Pakistan and splurged 25 runs in his three overs. Thakur, meanwhile, has been in stunning form in all formats of the game over the last two years. Kumar’s superior experience in ICC events has kept him ahead of Thakur in the pecking order so far.
Aakash Chopra’s Indian XI: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah.
Aakash Chopra previews Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult battle
Aakash Chopra also previewed the new-ball battle between Indian opener and vice-captain Rohit Sharma and New Zealand premier left-arm pacer Trent Boult.
He observed that Sharma’s success is key to India and if he can utilize his experience from the Mumbai Indians nets to handle Boult, India will enjoy the match.
Aakash Chopra concluded:
“Rohit Sharma is very important. When he does well India certainly wins. I think there’s just one half-century of his that has come in a losing cause. But the problem is he loses his wicket to left-arm pacers a lot. In fact, if you look at the stats of all T20Is then no one has got out more times against left-arm pacers than him… So Trent Boult’s danger will loom. It was Shaheen Afridi in the last game, here it’s Trent Boult but there’s a basic difference which is that Rohit Sharma has played the latter in the nets a lot so he isn’t an unknown commodity. So if we handle him well the story will be quite different.”
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The broadcast of the all-important match will start at 7:30 PM IST.