In the buildup to the highly anticipated Super 4s showdown between India and Pakistan in the ongoing Asia Cup 2023, former Pakistani pace sensation Shoaib Akhtar didn’t hold back in taking a pointed dig at India’s captain, Rohit Sharma. Akhtar’s critique centred at Rohit’s recent struggles against Pakistan’s left-arm seamer, Shaheen Afridi, a bowler who had proven to be a persistent thorn.
Battle between Rohit Sharma and Shaheen Afridi
The most recent duel occurred during a league stage match between these two cricketing giants in Pallekele, where Afridi, despite a somewhat shaky start with the new ball, returned with renewed strength after a brief rain delay. He meticulously set up Rohit with a succession of outswingers and ultimately bamboozled the Indian captain with a delivery that jagged back in sharply, clean-bowling him.
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Shoaib Akhtar highlights Rohit Sharma’s difficulties
The struggle wasn’t unfamiliar, as Rohit had previously been dismissed on the very first delivery he faced from Shaheen during the T20 World Cup 2021. In an engaging conversation with Star Sports, alongside former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, iconic Pakistani speedster Akhtar dissected Rohit’s latest downfall. He astutely pinpointed a change in Rohit’s stance, insinuating that the Indian captain appeared to be overly preoccupied with Shaheen, focusing on the bowler rather than the trajectory of the ball itself.
“Yeh Rohit Sharma woh Rohit Sharma hai hi nahi. Yeh uska stunt double hai. Shaheen uske dimaag mein baith gaya hai. (This is not the same Rohit Sharma. This one’s a stunt double. Shaheen has conquered his mind). I have never seen him change his stance, but what was happening there? Stance change kara, beat hua, bowled hua (He changed his stance and got bowled). Shaheen is subconsciously in his mind. This is what pressure of IND vs PAK match does to players,” Akhtar said.
India faces a daunting task of dealing with Pakistani pace trio
Despite the India-Pakistan encounter eventually getting washed out due to rain, Rohit’s recurring struggles against Shaheen showed a spotlight on India’s vulnerability against left-arm seamers. Unless inclement weather intervenes and disrupts the Super 4 clash between these arch-rivals, the Men in Blue will face a daunting challenge of contending with the new ball menace posed by Afridi, complemented by the formidable duo of Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. This trio of Pakistani pacemen has consistently wreaked havoc throughout the ongoing tournament, posing a formidable threat to India’s top-order batters.
The fixture slated for September 10 promises to be a pivotal examination for Rohit and his side as they strive to counter the pace, guile, and relentless aggression of Pakistan’s formidable bowling attack.
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