Asia Cup: Sanjay Manjrekar’s India XI for the Pakistan match

Sanjay Manjrekar has curated the perfect India XI for the crucial Asia Cup clash with Pakistan.

Channeling his years of cricketing experience, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has unveiled a potential lineup for India's imminent showdown with arch-foes Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023 opener. 

All eyes are on the impending spectacle at Sri Lanka's Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy, where the Men in Blue cross swords with Babar Azam's Pakistan. With the days swiftly counting down, Manjrekar, now a prominent voice in the commentary box, has crafted his the best India XI that he feels is strategically the best to take on the 1992 World Champions.  

Sanjay Manjrekar's best India XI against Pakistan

Sanjay Manjrekar has meticulously assembled a formidable pace attack to trouble the Pakistani batsmen. His arsenal boasts three specialist pacers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami, each chosen for their distinctive strengths.

To further fortify the options, Manjrekar's selection includes the versatile Hardik Pandya. Reflecting strategic adaptability, KL Rahul's return from injury finds him a berth in Manjrekar's squad. At the forefront, the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill ignites the innings with intent and flair.

KL Rahul is set to return to action following an injury layoff – Photo by Icon sport

In a display of determination, Rahul, who has been sidelined since IPL 2023 due to injury, has secured his spot in the Asia Cup squad. Despite a setback during his thigh injury rehabilitation, Rahul's dual role as a wicketkeeper and batsman assures Manjrekar that his name is poised to grace the team lineup for the Asia Cup's opening clash.

“My three seamers would be Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. Hardik Pandya would be my fourth seamer. My spinners would be (Ravindra) Jadeja and Kuldeep (Yadav). My opener would be Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma. No. 3 batter would be Virat Kohli. KL Rahul would play because he is the keeper,” the veteran commentator told ESPN Cricinfo. 

Shedding light on the middle-order dynamics, Manjrekar pointed out the potential inclusion of either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma for the electrifying showdown in the Asia Cup 2023. He emphasized that considering the abundance of right-handers in the lineup, the team's strategists might opt to introduce a southpaw in Tilak, aiming to introduce variety to the middle-order equation.

“Either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma could play [in the middle-order]. I am saying this because in India’s first-choice side XI, the first seven (six) batters, including Hardik Pandya, are all right-handers. Somewhere, India will have to fit in a left-hander in Tilak Varma. This is a problem India has,” Manjrekar explained.

Tilak's first ODI opportunity comes after he performed well in IPL 2023 and the T20I matches against the West Indies. He has played seven T20Is, scoring 174 runs with an average of 34.80. In the IPL, he managed to score 343 runs in 11 matches with a solid average of 42.88.

Sanjay Manjrekar’s India XI vs Pakistan is as follows:

Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer/ Tilak Varma, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.

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Born to a cricket-crazy father and a writer mother, Jish combined his parents' passions to fuel his own dreams of being a sports journalist. If it's got a scoring system and needs to be written about, chances are this guy has written about it.