A freak ankle injury had ruled Pandya out of the big game against the Kiwis who are eyeing their maiden triumph, even as the hosts desperately look to break their long trophy jinx in ICC tournaments.
With the flamboyant all-rounder not in picture, India have been forced to disturb a combination that has brought them four convincing wins on the trot, leaving the opponents worried and exploring ways to stop the rampaging hosts.
Against the New Zealanders, the Indians will take to the field after having done a bit of rejigging of their combination and re-evaluation of strategies.
Pandya's injury has disturbed the balance of the side as India doesn't have a like-for-like replacement for him. These thoughts must have crossed the minds of the men who matter the moment Pandya sustained the injury to his left ankle while trying to stop the ball on his follow-through during their match against Bangladesh in Pune.
The star all-rounder has been advised rest and hasn't travel to Dharamsala. Currently under the assessment of the BCCI medical team, Pandya is expected to join the squad in Lucknow before the match against England next week.
In the current scenario, seamer Mohammed Shami, who hasn't played a match so far in the World Cup, is a certainty in the playing XI as the pitch here is expected to favour the fast bowlers to some extent.
And to bolster the batting, Suryakumar Yadav instantly comes into the mix. But it remains to be seen who is the other player India would replace in their bid to get the balance right.
Given the situation, the mediocre Shardul Thakur should get the boot as Shami would be better suited merely because of his pace and swing in these conditions.
Ravichandran Ashwin, too, provides an option for India with both bat and ball but it remains to be seen whether his off-spin would be effective here.
The Indian batting has been doing extremely well with the likes of Rohit, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Shubman Gill all scoring runs.
Young Gill would look to make his presence felt one more time after his half-century against Bangladesh.
In bowling, the Indians have fared well with Jasprit Bumrah leading the attack from the front with the new ball and Kuldeep Yadav decimating sides with his guile in the middle overs.
Mohammed Siraj, too, have lived up to the expectations, and if included, Shami would provide the extra sting to the pace unit.
Going purely by records, New Zealand hold an edge over India in the World Cup.
It is going to be one of India's biggest challenge so far in the tournament as New Zealand is a side against which the Men In Blue have struggled in the past editions of the marquee event.
India and New Zealand have faced each other nine times in the ODI World Cup. Of these games, India have won only three times while New Zealand have come out victorious on five occasions, with one match being abandoned.
Both India and New Zealand are unbeaten so far in the tournament, registering four wins in as many games but the Kiwis are sitting atop the points table on account of a better net run rate.
So a win on Sunday will take both the sides closer to the semifinals. The Kiwis will be without skipper Kane Williamson, who fractured his thumb against Bangladesh and he may only return for the semifinals, provided they make it that far.
But Williamson's absence has hardly affected the Kiwis with the likes of Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mithcell sharing the responsibility in the batting department.
Will Young, too, has been a welcome addition at the opening slot.
Despite being without veteran Tim Southee, who is warming the bench, New Zealand possess a potent bowling attack.
In left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, New Zealand have the perfect weapon who can pick up wickets and also restrict runs. He is currently the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 11 scalps from four games.
Besides, the Kiwis have Matt Henry, Lockie Fergusson and the seasoned Trent Boult in their ranks, and the trio can dismantle any batting line-up on its day. Boult, though, is not in the best of form and would be hoping to regain his touch against India.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (vc & wk), Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee and Will Young.
Match starts at 2 pm.