Continental gladiators get ready for battle royale at the Colosseum

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 Due to the longstanding political tensions, both India and Pakistan play each other only at international tournaments, and hence the craze among the fans blow out of the roof, a testimony to it is the heavy hospital bookings, instead of booking 10-fold pricey hotel rooms for tomorrow’s match.

Bereft of India-Pakistan bilateral matches, the craze among the fans only gets manifold out of desperation, and it only gets the nod of the people if they do something unheard of.

If tomorrow’s match is a humdinger, and the weak hearted are at the Narendra Modi Stadium, rest be sure, they would be the most lucky ones to get the treatment in their reserved hospitals if any one of them suffers a stroke.

And for those, who are strong hearted would go any distance to bear the brunt as India would go full steam to deny Pakistan their first-ever World Cup win against them in Saturday’s blockbuster encounter.

Since 1992, Pakistan has not won any game at World Cup, but walk on to the field, taking a cue out of their record World Cup chase of 345 against Sri Lanka to make amends.

India are fresh from their eight-wicket thrashing of Afghanistan after skipper Rohit Sharma smashed a record seventh World Cup century on Wednesday. In the opener, India lived up to the billing of tournament favourites with a six-wicket win over five-time winners Australia, riding high on Virat Kohli and KL Rahul’s match-winning partnership after India were in doldrums at 2/3.

Top-ranked ODI batsman Azam has had poor outings in the tournament, scoring 5 and 10 in Pakistan’s two victories. Whereas, Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique scripted a brilliant partnership against Sri Lanka in Hyderabad, and Pakistani spinners and batsman Saud Shakeel orchestrated a win against Netherlands.

On the other hand, top Indian batsmen have been on song with Kohli getting 85 and unbeaten 55 against Australia and Afghanistan, and Rahul belted an unconquered 97 against Australia.

Jasprit Bumrah’s 4-39 in the last match and Ravindra Jadeja demolishing Australia in the opener, must give the much-needed filip for the Indian bowling lineup.

Kuldeep Yadav has been in good form, picking up three wickets so far, and the onus will be on him if Ravichandran Ashwin is omitted and Shardul Thakur prefered.

Shubman Gill’s availability is yet to be determined as he joined the team yesterday after a bout of dengue.

But one thing is determined. A roller-coaster match is in the offing with over 1,30,000 spectators shouting at top of their voices at The Colosseum, where the sub-continental gladiators would banter about and snarl at each other in the heat of the match.

Predicted Playing XI

India: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah

Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Muhammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.

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