Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has named his squad for India's inaugural Asia Cup match against archrival Pakistan in 2023.
Notably, the Men in Blue will face the Babar Azam-led side in Kandy, Sri Lanka, at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
With less than ten days until the high-octane game, cricketer-turned-commentator Manjrekar named his starting XI that may face Pakistan.
The former cricketer chose three specialist pacers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami, with Hardik Pandya as his fourth option. KL Rahul, who returns to the lineup after suffering an injury in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, is also included to Manjrekar's India XI.
Manjrekar preferred skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill to start the proceedings for Team India.
"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,";
Manjrekar told ESPN cricinfo.
Speaking of his middle order, Manjrekar stated that either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma might be in the lineup for the high-octane Asia Cup 2023 match. However, he went on to say that with so many right-handers in the lineup, the think tank may try to bring in a southpaw in Tilak to change things up in the middle order.
"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,"
Tilak earned his first ODI call-up after an outstanding performance in the IPL 2023 and the T20I series against the West Indies. The young left-hander has appeared in seven Twenty20 Internationals and scored 174 runs at an average of 34.80. In addition, he had a successful IPL season, hitting 343 runs in 11 matches at a solid average of 42.88.
Sanjay Manjrekar's India XI vs Pakistan: 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
For more Sports updates please follow us on Twitter