Ravichandran Ashwin returns to competitive cricket after a long time, after having given the Indian Premier League (IPL) a pass. The off-spinner will be keen to make a fresh impression at the ICC Champions Trophy and India definitely would be looking to him to as a key element in the first match against Pakistan, as also all the rest after that. On the counter side, Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik would be an ideal counterpoint for the Indian.
Ashwin has been champing at the bits since the IPL, especially after his side, Rising Pune Supergiant, had to bear the agony of losing the final to Mumbai Indians by just one run.
He had promised to try some new deliveries at the Champions Trophy and the first face-off with the wily Mailk may well see some novel stuff on display.
Malik will be keen to guide his side to a rare win over India. He has played 247 ODIs for Pakistan, scoring 6711 runs with the help of 9 centuries.
Malik has the top score of 143 and an average of 35.50. His role, in the event the top-order does not click, would be to negotiate the middle overs, exactly when Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are in action.
Ashwin has so far played 105 ODIs and his economy of 4.91 is the most telling statistic, especially during a time when 300-plus totals are a norm rather than an exception. A total of 145 wickets add to his credentials.
Both of them can reverse roles too. Ashwin could be handy with the bat, while Malik was at time one of Pakistan's best spinners.