The mother of all battles, India versus Pakistan is not just a game of cricket but an occasion where the intense rivalry between the two neighbours comes to the fore.
Amid political tensions between the two countries, it is a very rare occurrence that these two countries are pitted against each other. Due to no bilateral series between the two nations, it is only Asia Cup or an ICC event where India and Pakistan are up against each other.
As for the fans, it gives bragging rights to the citizens of the country who wins the encounter, until the next time these two teams lock horns.
The 22nd match of the ongoing ICC World Cup will see these two giants colliding if the weather permits. As far as their standings are concerned, India is placed fourth with five points from three games (two wins and one no result) while Pakistan is ninth with three points from four games (one win and one no result).
The India team surely has a psychological advantage as they are in a better position and have an unbeaten record against Pakistan at the World Cups. Pakistan would not only want to break the losing streak but also register a win which would significantly improve their chances of making it to the top four
The Men in Blue won both their encounters against South Africa and Australia while their game against New Zealand was abandoned and both teams shared a point each.
Pakistan, on the other hand, was bundled out cheaply (105) against the West Indies team and faltered against Australia as well in their previous game. However, it is their unpredictable nature that one can’t rule out the team’s chances of securing two points in a crucial encounter.
This is the same team that outplayed hosts England in every department and secured a win against them while having their backs against the walls. A win would place them fifth on the table with as many points as India and it is imperative for them to secure two points if they want to survive in the tournament.
As far as the team compositions are concerned, the Indian team suffered a big blow as opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the tournament for at least three weeks.
Not only does that leave a huge void to fill but also raises the question of who will be India’s number four, once again. While KL Rahul will be opening the innings along with Rohit Sharma, it would be interesting to see who does the team management use at number four — Vijay Shankar or Dinesh Karthik?
Sharma, who has already scored a century and a half-century in the tournament, will have to be careful of Mohammad Amir’s in-swinging deliveries that have troubled him in the past.
In fact, Dhawan was the only left-handed batsman among the first seven batsmen of the team. Losing the services of Dhawan means that India’s right-handed batsmen will be exposed against three left-arm pacers of Pakistan who can swing the ball both ways.
With overcast conditions and rain interruptions forecasted, the Indian batsmen will have to be very careful as to who they target when they get a chance to bat.
Skipper Virat Kohli wasn’t convincing in his previous knock against Australia but despite that, he scored a half-century (82) and a lot would depend as to how he tackles the threat from Amir.
Apart from Kedar Jadhav and the new number four batsman, all the other batsmen in the team have got decent practice out in the middle in the previous two matches. It will be interesting to see what combination the Indian team uses against Pakistan who would want to register a win at any cost.
In the bowling department, one can presume Kuldeep Yadav being benched for this game and Mohammed Shami in the playing XI as the pitch would assist the seamers more rather than the spinners and the conditions would be overcast.
Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal have put in decent performances with the ball and would want to carry on with their good run. The fifth bowler quota, which will be completed by Hardik Pandya, Jadhav and Shankar (if he gets a chance in the team), probably seems to be the weakest link in the Indian side at the moment.
The Pakistan team boasts of batsmen who have been consistent with the bat in the past such as Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.
However, it would be interesting to see with what mindset these batsmen take the field. If they execute their skills as they did in the Champions Trophy 2017 finals against India or how they performed against England recently, then it will make for a gripping contest.
But if they falter as they did against West Indies and Australia, then India might prove to be much stronger out of the two. Also, if Pakistan is to make a match out of this contest, a lot would depend on their bowlers. Especially on the trio of – Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali to restrict the Indian batsmen to the lowest score possible.
Given how the turf won’t be spinner friendly, Pakistan may opt for Shaheen Afridi rather than Shadab Khan. Asif Ali wasn’t impressive in the last game either as he dropped a few easy chances. Haris Sohail might be used as a replacement.
It is likely that the game between these two teams might get abandoned as the forecast says light to moderate rain. It has been raining at Manchester for a few days and the ground hasn’t been fully covered due to which, there are patches on the ground that are damp.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Shami.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed (C), Haris Sohail, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz and Shaheed Afridi.
(Featured Image: Twitter/BCCI)
About the Author
Wasn’t and still isn’t certain about anything except that cricket is his first love. If he is not talking or writing about sports then he must be travelling. These two things help in restoring sanity in this insane world.