New Delhi: Saturday is set to witness a very interesting match between the arch-rivals India and Pakistan at Edgbaston, when India's fearless opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan will walk out to show his batting magic at the ICC Champions Trophy.

Dhawan, who is doing the unthinkable at the Champions Trophy by apparently making fans forget the three cricketing legends- Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir- can create history with smashing another ton on Saturday, making a hat-rick of centuries. If Dhawan scores another hundred in the match on Saturday, he will become the first Indian player to make a hat-trick in the ODI.

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Dhawan scored a stroke-filled 114 against South Africa in Cardiff last Thursday and on Tuesday at The Oval he smashed an unbeaten 102 off 107 balls to guide India to an eight-wicket win over West Indies that took them into the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy.

Scoring two centuries back-to-back is not a rare occurrence. In ODI history, batsmen from different countries have achieved this on 78 occasions. However, only four have made it a hat-trick - Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers. Moreover, before Dhawan, eight Indian batsman have scored two straight ODI centuries: Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

Former Pak players hopeful of positive result against India
 
Despite being knocked out of the ICC Champions Trophy after suffering two successive defeats, Pakistan still have a 50 percent chance of winning their much-awaited clash with arch-rivals India, the country's former players believe.
     
"It is always difficult to make predictions on a Indo-Pak game so I will say most of the time it is a 50-50 situation for both sides before a match," former captain Aamir Sohail said.
     
"No doubt India have a very strong and in-form batting side at the moment, but Pakistan's strength is its in-form bowlers and I think they will enjoy bowling at Edgbaston so it is a even situation," Sohail added.
    
He pointed out that the Edgbaston pitch had played slow and low so far in the tournament and this was something which will be good for the bowlers. "I say 50-50 because both teams always play against each other with a special spirit and our players know the big difference of returning home after beating India and returning home after losing to them," he said.
     
Sohail also praised the batting of Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan saying he was the sort of a player who didn't allow bowlers to dominate.
     
Another former captain, Zaheer Abbas, hoped the Pakistani batsmen would rise to the occasion. "It is a special game and our players must realize how much their supporters and fans will be expecting them to do well. My advice to them is play sensible cricket and apply yourself. "In England you need to bat yourself in you can't just come and start playing your shots straightaway," Abbas, who played for a number of years in English county cricket, said.

Rashid Latif said India would be a formidable opposition on current form. "I am not worried about Dhawan scoring two back-to-back hundreds because he will be vulnerable against our new ball attack. I am more worried about our bowlers bowling well to tackle quality players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma or (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni... they are dangerous players," he said.
     
Latif said Pakistan must try out Kamran Akmal as an opener and play Abdul Rehman because of the conditions at Edgbaston. Mohsin Khan felt that the Indian batsmen will be under pressure against the Pakistani bowlers. "They could be in form but when they play against our bowlers they will feel the pressure because our bowlers have always lifted their game against them." "I think Mohammad Irfan will play a key role as he has the ability to dominate the Indian batsmen," he said.
     
Former Test spinner, Tauseef Ahmed said he was more interested in the match from the spinners' point of view."I want to see how Saeed Ajmal or (Ravichandran) Ashwin bowl in the match because I have a feeling our batsmen are going to click in this crucial game. "We don't have many impact players like India but if Kamran (Akmal) or Nasir (Jamshed) get going it will be a exciting game," he stated.

JPN/Bureau/Agencies

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