Shubman Gill and spinners in spotlight for India and Pakistan World Cup showdown

Arch-rivals face off at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Saturday

Shubman Gill during practice ahead of India's World Cup clash against Pakistan in Ahmedabad. Reuters
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India opener Shubman Gill could make the cut for the World Cup match against Pakistan in Ahmedabad on Saturday, with captain Rohit Sharma stating that he is close to being fully fit.

Gill, who has been India's best ODI batsman in 2023, missed India's wins against Australia and then Afghanistan as he recovered from dengue.

The right-handed batsman returned to the nets and batted for extended periods, raising hopes of reuniting with captain Rohit at a venue where had plundered runs in white-ball cricket. “99 per cent he is available,” Rohit said of Gill.

In Gill's absence, Ishan Kishan opened against Australia in Chennai when he scored a first-ball duck and then fell three runs short of a half century against Afghanistan in New Delhi.

India fielded tree spinners in Chennai where they bowled out Australia for 199. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav are in excellent touch – making a better combination than the quicks – and Rohit did not rule out repeating the combination by bringing back Ashwin.

“Depending on what kind of conditions we face, if there is a change or two we need to make, we will be ready with that and the guys have been informed well in advance about these kind of changes,” he said.

“I don't think it's going to be any issues for the players. If the requirement is there for us to play three spinners, we will play three spinners.

Rohit said the team has momentum after they won the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and then beat Australia in a three-match series.

“Rhythm is very important. If you look at it in other terms, it is called momentum,” Rohit added.

“We have played seven or eight matches in India and before that in Sri Lanka and here too we played two matches of the World Cup.

“The bowlers have shown very good performances. Whether it is spinners or seamers, whenever they have got a chance to put pressure on the batsmen, they have done so. All the batsmen have scored runs.”

Pakistan, meanwhile need to decide quickly on the structure of their team for the rest of the tournament.

Their bowlers failed to impress on the flat pitches in Hyderabad, despite the team securing two victories over Netherlands and Sri Lanka, by 81 runs and six wickets respectively.

Their spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz have been far from convincing or consistent, propping up leg-spinner Usama Mir in the process.

Their dip in slow bowling has also coincided with below-par spells from fast bowlers. Shaheen Afridi is down on pace while Haris Rauf also looks uncomfortable, leaking runs with ease.

Batting wise, Muhammad Rizwan has been in fine scoring touch, hitting 68 in the win over the Dutch and then an unbeaten 131 against Sri Lanka which saw Pakistan chase down a record run chase of 345.

Updated: October 13, 2023, 6:01 PM