World Cup 2023: Shaheen Afridi eyes sending India’s star batter back to pavilion

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Pakistans Shaheen Shah Afridi stretches during a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on October 5, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi stretches during a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on October 5, 2023. — AFP

Like everyone preparing for the high-voltage clash of the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistani star pacer, is also set to walk into the field with one particular aim.

The 23-year-old fast bowler has spoken about his bowling plans ahead of Pakistan’s mega game with arch-rivals in Ahmedabad city, as the Green Shirts are set to face the Men in Blue on Indian soil after 10 years.

Shaheen, known for his left arm fast left-arm deliveries, aims to dismiss the Indian captain, Rohit Sharma, terming his wicket as key to Pakistan’s victory.

“Rohit Sharma has scored a lot of runs for India and he can be very dangerous,” the lanky pacer said in an interview with Star Sports on Saturday.

“If you dismiss a team’s captain early, other batters come under pressure. So, my plan will be to dismiss Rohit quickly,” he added.

There is no bigger match in international cricket than Pakistan vs India, more so in the World Cup, where the world stops and supporters from both countries hold their breath and watch the arch-rivals take on one another. Regardless of the venue, the hype, the tension, and the drama remain the same.

The two teams are set to face each other for the eighth time in the history of the World Cup at the Narendra Modi Stadium, a venue capable of accommodating as many as 132,000 spectators.

Rohit Sharma is eager to carry on the tradition of India beating Pakistan in the World Cup, while Babar Azam is keen to etch his name in history as the first Pakistani captain to defeat the Blues in the 50-over World Cup, similar to what he accomplished in the T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai.

Both teams are in red-hot form. The Green Shirts head to Ahmedabad after achieving the largest successful chase in the history of the mega event against Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the Blues showcased their prowess by chasing down the target of 273 runs in just 35 overs against Afghanistan in their last game, demonstrating their preparation for the highly anticipated encounter.

The arch-rivals have met one another 134 times in total in ODIs, with Pakistan winning 73 matches and India emerging victorious 56 times, while five times the match was tied. However, their head-to-head record in the World Cup is one-sided with the Blues emerging victorious seven out of seven times.

Tentative playing XIs

Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj

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