Hyderabad: Every cricket aficionado in the sub-continent will be on tenterhooks. Excitement is understandably palpable. The ambience is invariably electric on eve of any India-Pakistan clash, particularly in a World Cup fixture. This T20 World Cup encounter will be no different. The teams will be on the razor’s edge. Being the opening encounter for both the teams, uneasy tension could prevail in both the camps. With the relations between the two countries at the worst point, this Super Sunday blockbuster has the ingredients of a pulsating contest. At the stroke of 7.30 pm (IST), there will be billions of viewers sitting, chatting and chewing the nails in all hopes of a win.
India may have the advantage of an unbeaten record against their rivals in the World Cup but Sunday will be a new and different game. But Pakistan never lost a T20 match in Dubai. Virat Kohli and Babar Azam will be the centre of attraction when they go out for the toss. Their leadership qualities will be the game-changer. The next 40 overs will be a test of nerves. The team that plays a fearless game and handle the pressure will win the match. `Jo jeeta wohi Sikandar.’
The match is of special significance as these two countries play against each other in ICC conducted events only. If India emerged triumphant in the 2019 World Cup, Pakistan were victorious in the Champions Trophy final.
India are quietly confident and raring to go. There is no denying the fact that the team has class batsmen in their ranks like Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Kohli, Surya Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant. The two confident winning shows against England and Australia in the warm-up matches speak of their preparation for the World Cup forcing someone like Steve Smith to say it as terrific.
According to Dinesh Karthik, India’s bowling attack has improved a lot over the past few years, which is why they are now winning abroad. “Our bowling attack of (Jasprit) Bumrah, Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), (Mohammed) Shami, and Shardul Thakur is very good. In addition, we have an X factor in Varun Chakravarthy. Not many batters have played against him. He’s a mystery spinner; such cricketers are rare and he’s one of a kind,” he said recently.
Pakistan, too, have done well in their warm up matches. They are a very unpredictable team. But the team banks on Azam’s proficiency. It needs other players like veteran Shoaib Malik, Mohd Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Harris Rauf to shine and break the World Cup jinx against India. But it is also a big challenge for Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haider Ali to strangle the Indian batters.
Kohli made light of the hype around the match saying it is like any other game. Pressure. This eight-letter word haunts the two teams whenever they face off in any event and former international Suresh Raina said that one would be lying if they say they have no butterflies in their stomach.
The fate of the team is decided in the last five overs. The batsmen can take away the match with big hitting but if the bowlers stand up to the challenge the team could emerge at the top.
India and Pakistan made important additions to the supporting staff. The sheer presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni could bring calmness into the dressing room. Pakistan have drafted former Australian opener Matthew Hayden to give special effects to the team. Finally, it has been 14 years since India won the T20 World Cup. Will the Kohli-Shastri-Dhoni combination bring back smiles to India? Therefore a winning start is the right tonic for Kohli’s men to regain the World Cup glory.
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