MS Dhoni Suresh Raina World T20 2016
MS Dhoni has a few team selections to ponder upon, while Suresh Raina needs to fire with the bat for India when they play Pakistan in the ICC World T20 2016IANS

After MS Dhoni's men failed to handle spin in Nagpur against New Zealand, the first thing on most minds for this as-big-as-they-come India vs Pakistan match will be, "What will the pitch be like."

Two matches have already been played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and pitches for both of those games have been on the slower side. To India's and their fans' relief, however, none of those wickets have taken as much turn as the one at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.

However, there will be grip and a bit of turn for spinners on this wicket, and if that is a good thing or not from India's perspective after the manner in which they collapsed against New Zealand is a question that will be answered only at the end of this India vs Pakistan match.

With the pitch expected to aid the spinners more than the faster bowlers, Dhoni, who hurt his finger in the loss to New Zealand, but is expected to be fine, does have the option of playing either Harbhajan Singh or Pawan Negi for Hardik Pandya. However, Dhoni loves what Pandya brings to the team, and even if the youngster has sometimes failed to rise to the occasion with the bat – there have been times when he has as well – it is unlikely the captain will make changes to his playing XI for such a big match.

Negi, after all, has only played one T20 international match, and that was against the UAE, while bringing in Harbhajan will mean weakening India's batting lineup, and after they were shot out for little to nothing against New Zealand, that might not be the greatest of ideas.

Much of India's batting depends on the top three of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, but it really is time for Suresh Raina, easily one of India's best T20 batsmen, to step up. Slow pitches are what Raina usually thrives on, and if given an opportunity, the left-hander really must come to the fore.

Ashish Nehra is likely to keep his place in the playing XI, even if Mohammad Shami is waiting in the wings to have a crack at the Pakistan batsmen.

Pakistan found their groove with the bat against Bangladesh, with Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi leading their team to a score of over 200. That score was posted at the same ground – the Eden Gardens – where Pakistan have never lost a limited-overs match to India.

With the batsmen in form and the bowlers doing what is expected of them, it will come as a surprise if Pakistan makes any changes to their playing XI, unless there is a late injury, of course.

Expected lineups: India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah.

Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan.

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