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Will India continue its winning streak against Pakistan in World Cup Cricket?

New Delhi: Back in the Eighties, the much popular, Sharjah Cup, had mostly India playing Pakistan in the finals in the three-nation tournament. Pakistan at that time was considered to be one of the toughest teams to beat. The likes of Mudassar Nazar, Javed Miandad, Salim Malik, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram could turn the tables at any moment of the game during any Indo-Pak encounter. In 1992 cricket World Cup, Imran Khan was plucked out of retirement to lead the team. Paul Woodcock once said, “Imran was brought back to the smell of grass, willow and leather from the inertia of retirement.’’ Under his able and competent captaincy, Pakistan lifted the World Cup, a feat the team is yet to replicate after 27 years.

As India and Pakistan clash at a crucial game today at Manchester, one expects high-voltage action with both sides giving their best to win the match. However, Pakistan have their work cut out. They have to excel in all department of the game to give a tough fight to India which is undoubtedly the best team in this tournament. Kohli, in all probability, would bring in Shami and Vijay Shanker in today’s match. Shami’s deadly yorker and outswingers and inswingers can be a pain in the neck of Pakistani batsmen.

In the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, it will be Rahul and Rohit Sharma who would be opening the batting for India. The presence of Pandya, Dhoni and Rishab Pant would definitely be a major boost for the team. India have never lost a single match to Pakistan in the World Cups so far. And, Indian cricket fans would expect another convincing victory for their team this time round also. While captain Virat Kohli can anchor the Team India’s batting side, the dangerous Hardik Pandya can definitely take the game away from the Pakistan team if he gets going. Then there is MS Dhoni who is a great finisher and he can pose a major threat to Pakistan’s victory once he starts unleashing his sixers and boundaries.

As for Pakistan, they need a solid opening partnership if they have to chase a formidable total. It is true, Pakistan don’t have openers like Saeed Anwar and Amir Sohail, so all that the openers need to do is to play with caution and avoid playing impulsive shots.

For India, one bowler who can be dangerous is none other than Mohammad Amir. In their last game against Australia, Amir’s 5-wicket haul somewhat stopped the former’s run fest. Shaheen Afridi also needs to keep his line and length perfect to trouble the Indian batsmen. Wahab Riaz is a good bowler and batsman. He is a man to watch out for as he is a big hitter of the bowl. Pakistani fans would definitely be expecting a solid knock from the likes of Babar Azam, Imam-Ul-Haq and all-rounder Shoaib Malik at crucial stages of the game. But remember, they would be pitted against a disciplined and highly lethal bowling attack spearheaded by the likes of Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Shami. Dealing with Chahal would also not be easy as his deceptive flights and spins can bamboozle even an experienced player.

With rain playing spoilsport in this tournament, fans from both the sides are hoping for a 50 over match today. Indian fans were hugely disappointed after the India-New Zealand match had to be abandoned following incessant rains.  Here is hoping the rain gods show some mercy so that cricket fans from the subcontinent can enjoy a nail-biting and heart-stopping India-Pakistan encounter.

Aditya Mukherjee

The writer is an independent journalist based in Delhi

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