Virat Kohli
Can Virat Kohli's men start their campaign with a win? Reuters

Defending champions India take on arch-rivals Pakistan in a Group B encounter of 2017 Champions Trophy at Edgbaston on Sunday.

The two teams have met only twice (in One Day Internationals) after India's eight-wicket win in a rain-marred Champions Trophy 2013 game at the same venue. While Pakistan won the Asia Cup meeting in 2014, the Men in Blue comfortably edged out their rivals by 76 runs at the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

India start as favourites on Sunday, but the off-field controversies surrounding the rift between skipper Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble is a cause of concern. However, the Asian giants were able to win both their warm-up games on the back of some superlative bowling performance.

Traditionally, India-Pakistan battles have been a test of the former's batting might and the latter's bowling might. However, the Men in Blue have arrived in England with an impressive pace attack, that has shot out both New Zealand and Bangladesh for meager scores in the warm-up encounters.

India though are undecided about their playing XI yet with doubts over the fitness of all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who missed both the practice games. While Jasprit Bumrah is certain to make the playing XI, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will battle for the other two pace-bowling spots.

With Pakistan having quite a few right-handers in their squad, India might as well drop premier off-spinner R Ashwin to make way for fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

On the other hand, eighth-ranked Pakistan have to step up if they are to stand a chance of stunning the third-ranked ODI side. While Sarfraz Ahmed's men have not produced the same kind of results Misbah-ul-Haq had had with his unit in the recent past, the Men in Green are a dangerous unit, who can stun top teams on their day.

Pakistan will rely on their pace bowlers, with Mohammad Amir leading the dangerous pack, which also has Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan. Sarfraz will be tempted to give fast-bowling all-rounder Faheem Ashraf his maiden ODI cap on Sunday as he impressed with his 30-ball 64 against Bangladesh in the warm-up match. 18-year-old Shadab Khan might as well find himself in the playing XI as the leg-spinner adds variety to the attack.

There is no dearth of expectations around the tie despite the recent India-Pakistan encounters being dull, one-sided affairs. On Sunday, there will be thousands in blue and green in Birmingham, across the world in front of their TV sets cheering and praying for their respective teams.

Is Edgbaston, amidst all the concerns about overcast conditions, gearing up for a classic encounter? A few more hours to go and we will know.

Team News

India

Possible XI: Kohli (c), Rohit, Dhawan, Yuvraj, Dhoni (wk), Jadhav, Hardik, Jadeja, Bumrah, Shami, Umesh

Pakistan

Possible XI: Sarfraz (c & wk), Azhar, Shahzad, Babar, Hafeez, Malik, Imad, Ashraf, Amir, Wahab, Hasan