Super Sunday In T20 World Cup: India Gun For A 6-0 Scoreline Versus Pakistan
Kolkata: India lead 5-0… Can they make it 6-0?
No, we are not talking about a tennis match. It happens to be the head-to-head count of India’s T20 World Cup clashes with arch-rivals Pakistan.
As the Men in Blue prepare to face Babar Azam’s team in the World Cup on Sunday, the weight of history seems to be pointing overwhelmingly to another Indian triumph.
The first two clashes in the inaugural World Cup in 2007 produced close contests. The group league game ended in a tie before India pipped Pakistan via a bowl-out (instead of a super over). The two teams went on to qualify for the final, in which India kept their nerves in the final over to pip Pakistan by 5 runs.
Thereafter, the two teams — which have stopped playing bilateral series due to political tensions — have faced off three more times in the T20 World Cup. All of those resulted in convincing wins for Team India — in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Interestingly, Indians chased successfully in those last 3 World Cup duels.
Given a choice, Kohli would most likely field first on Sunday because the dew factor makes it difficult for spinners to grip the ball in the evening. Therefore, the toss could be an important factor.
India, though, look to have all bases covered.
Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy has been a revelation in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, as batsmen have struggled to read which way his deliveries would spin.
With the pitches expected to be a tad sluggish and aid spinners, India have other options in the form of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Rahul Chahar.
India’s batting strength is every opponent’s envy. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma can set the UAE deserts on fire with explosive starts, while Kohli will be determined to make a statement in his last tournament as India’s T20 skipper.
As for Surya Kumar Yadav, none other than Pakistani legend Wasim Akram considers him to emerge as the most impactful player in the tournament. Add the explosive pair of Rishabh Pant-Hardik Pandya, followed by Jadeja, and you have a lineup which can get on top of any bowling attack.
Despite their superiority in World Cup matches, India can’t afford to underestimate Pakistan. The green brigade, led by their most accomplished batsman Babar Azam, is arguably the most unpredictable cricket team in the world.
Apart from Babar, who had said a few years ago that he modelled his batting on Kohli, the Pakistanis do have some more matchwinners. Left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi is one of them, and his team will look up to him to unsettle India’s strong top-order batting with early blows.
The hard-hitting Fakhar Zaman is another player to watch out for. India knows his potential very well, having suffered at the hands of the left-handed opener who almost single-handedly won Pakistan the 2017 Champions Trophy final.