Ind vs Pak, T20 World Cup: Confident India hoping to turn the tables on Pakistan


MelbourneHis impeccable record against the arch-rivals at the major ICC events is a thing of the past, a wounded Indian team will be desperate for revenge against a high-quality Pakistani side in a sold-out Super 12 clash of the T20 World Cup, here on Sunday.

While rain is likely to be a bummer, it’s unlikely to be a complete washout according to people who understand the weather conditions here.

Thousands of fans from both countries have crossed the globe to see their team in action, relying on rival captains Rohit Sharma and Babar Azam to tell you this is another ‘game’ for them, but all 22 players and the reserves know that this is ‘The Match’.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, among whom India never lost to Pakistan in ICC events, repeated himself time and again that there is no place for the word ‘vengeance’ on a cricket pitch.

But a lot has changed in the past year since Shaheen Shah Afridi gave the Pakistani team its first win of an all-format World Cup in an intimidating opening spell.

Not only was it a won game or a broken voodoo, but Shaheen’s 3/31 was also successful in hurting the egos of some of today’s cricketing greatest hitters.

While Rohit, Virat Kohli or KL Rahul are not those who will easily forget last year’s humiliation in Dubai, the fact remains that India as a team has been looking a little undercooked lately.

And on Sunday at least, the ‘Men In Blue’ would not start as favorites in the ‘mother of all clashes’. BCCI’s statement that India will not travel to Pakistan to play the Asian Cup and PCB’s subsequent threat to withdraw from the 50 during the World Cup in India has only made the atmosphere more politically charged and more vicious.

India wouldn’t mind going into a game as an underdog and it will be Pakistan that will have to live up to the high expectations.

Combination is still a concern for India ======================== This has been a trend in the Indian team for a while – not having a fixed combination. In 2019, even after two years leading up to the meet, they did not have a number four.

And now, a year after the last one World Cup T20India would have to drop a specialist southpaw (Rishabh Pant) from the top five to accommodate an additional bowler.

The evenness in the batting lineup is a bit concerning as Shaheen, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf could throw one line in the absence of Pant, who was also a bit out of shape.

How India’s top three handle Shaheen in the Powerplay would determine how the match will go.

One man who might be able to beat Shaheen directly is India’s current No. 1 batter Suryakumar Yadav, one who never changes his game no matter the circumstances or situations.

But in wet conditions, Rohit would pray that a woman’s luck would shine on him and that he would win the toss and choose to hunt if his bowling line-up is looking a little sloppy.

While India has three spinners in the lineup, only one could end up playing if the ongoing rain and a sharp drop in temperature make conditions lake-friendly.

In that case, an out-of-form Harshal Patel, with decent hitting skills might be back in the schedule.

But with three left-handers – Shan Masood/Fakhar Zaman, Mohammed Nawaz and Khushdil Shah, there will always be a bowler in the mix who can avert it. Therefore, Ravichandran Ashwin can never be completely out of balance.

Last time, the strategy of promoting Nawaz as a pinch hitter in Asia Cup Super 4 literally hit India, but they must have done better homework this time so as not to get caught off guard.

On Sunday, the only factor giving Pakistan a slight edge is Shaheen, who is slowly approaching his best level.

At the MCG after 37 years ================= After almost 37-and-a-half years, a clash between India and Pakistan is on the agenda. For the first time since the final of the Benson & Hedges Cricket World Cup in 1985.

That was Sunil Gavaskar’s last game as India captain and at home in India fans saw Ravi Shastri make a gleaming Audi for a round of MCG.

There were barely 30,000 fans that day and an offensive poster in the stands of locals reading “World Cup Final: Tram Conductors vs Bus Drivers” basically humiliated the social status of the two South Asian neighbours.

No one could have guessed at the time that an India-Pakistan match would become a major commercial vehicle in multi-team events. It’s not just any match, it’s ‘The Match’.

Selections:

India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel and Deepak Hooda.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (Captain), Mohammed Rizwan (WK), Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Mohammed Nawaz, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammed Wasim, Shadab Khan Mohammed Hasnain.

Start match: 1.30 pm IST.



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