The El-Classico of cricket. The day cricket fans the world over have been eagerly awaiting. Pakistan versus India, Manchester, 16thJune 2019, the Cricket World Cup! Over a billion and a half expected to tune in. Hearts pumping, minds racing and adrenaline at its peak. It really doesn’t get any bigger. The entire city of Manchester will have a festive look and will resemble the streets of Lahore, New Delhi, Karachi and Mumbai with hordes of fans dressed in green and blue.
The threat of rain looms once again like every match in this world cup. The forecast doesn’t predict it to be menacing enough to force a washout. However anything less than fifty overs will be a real heartbreak.
India will go into this match on a high. They remain unbeaten and seem to be in prime form. Pakistan seem the quite opposite. Pakistan’s defeat against Australia was an amalgam of all mistakes possible on a cricket field i.e. dropped catches, misfields, bad shot selection and unimpressive bowling (barring Amir and the odd good over from the rest). Whether Pakistan makes up for any of this, one can never tell. On paper, India seem favourites to continue their world cup streak against Pakistan.
But as is always the case with Pakistan, you never know which Pakistan side shows up, the one that thrashed India in the final of the Champions Trophy 2017 or the one that got thrashed by India in the group stage of the same tournament. The last two matches between two sides played back in the Asia Cup 2018 were a show of complete dominance by India. India looked calm, collected and in control from ball one while Pakistan looked nervous, immature and seemed to be trying too hard to prove a point. Many expect a repeat show of the Asia Cup from Pakistan and quite honestly, it may as well happen.
Pakistan can no longer continue to look back at the Champions Trophy final for inspiration and need a solid game plan coupled with efficient execution of the plan to come out on top. The basics however remain constant for both teams: Do not drop catches or leak runs, do not lose wickets up front while batting and take early wickets when bowling. India will have to see off the early spell from Amir and Pakistan will have to see off Bumrah’s. Both teams rely heavily on their top three batsmen to do bulk of the scoring but there is no debate over which side’s top three are more reliable. India will miss Shikhar Dhawan but have the men in their team to make up for his absence.
Pakistan are worried about their top three batsman not going big yet in the tournament and over the form of Malik and Asif. One change in the form of Shadab’s inclusion in Shaheen’s or Hasan’s place is confirmed and Asif might get the axe in favour of Imad as well. Malik is likely to stay in due to his past performances against India. But the most important aspect for Pakistan will be their mental status. They need to rise to the challenge rather than letting the challenge get to them. India however just needs to do more of what they’ve already been doing and they’re good to go.
On recent form: India no doubt.
But as we always say, YOU NEVER KNOW WITH PAKISTAN! Besides, India hasn’t had a bad game for some time either.