Cricket-Gill may return for Pakistan clash, India mull three spinners

By Amlan Chakraborty

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – India opener Shubman Gill is in the frame to return for Saturday’s World Cup blockbuster against Pakistan and the hosts are also open to playing three spinners at the Narendra Modi Stadium, skipper Rohit Sharma said on Friday.

Gill is the leading run-getter in one-day internationals this year but missed India’s victories against Australia and Afghanistan as he continued his recovery from dengue.

The elegant right-hander returned to the nets on Thursday and Rohit was optimistic of having his opening partner back for the tournament’s most anticipated match.

“99% he’s available,” Rohit said of Gill without elaborating even after being pressed.

In Gill’s absence, Ishan Kishan opened with Rohit and scored a duck against Australia in Chennai and 47 against Afghanistan in New Delhi.

India fielded a three-pronged spin attack in Chennai where they bowled out Australia for 199 and Rohit would not rule out repeating the combination by bringing back Ravichandran 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.”

India boast an unblemished 7-0 record against Pakistan in the 50-overs World Cup but Rohit warned against underestimating their “quality opponent”.

“I’m not a person who looks into those stats. You got to play good cricket on that particular day to win the game,” he said.

“That is what we’ll be focusing on — how we can play good cricket, which is understanding the conditions, what is required from the team’s perspective, and things like that.”

India thumped Pakistan in an Asia Cup match last month but Rohit did not think they would carry any psychological advantage from that outcome.

“I don’t believe in these things,” the opener said.

“As a team, we can’t be focusing on past. It will be a fresh day, a fresh contest, against a quality opposition.

“I believe both teams start even. There will be no favourite or underdog tomorrow.”

The western Indian city of Ahmedabad is in firm grip of a cricket fever and more than 100,000 fans, including celebrities, are expected to turn up for the game’s fiercest rivalry on Saturday.

Rohit played down the hysteria around the contest, saying his players would not be swayed by it.

“We’d treat this match just like we treated the previous two matches and how we’d treat our remaining matches. No more, no less.”

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Ahmedabad; editing by Christian Radnedge)