When India meet their arch-rivals (June 16), we all know what happens! And this time the clash seems interesting as the young Indian team is looking to explore the England pitch and weather in their fourth clash during ongoing World Cup. And on the other side, Pakistan are like a wounded tiger who are struggling to survive in this campaign by defeating the strong Indian side that has no losses on their tally.
Kohli has admitted the fact that the India-Pakistan encounter day might be a bit frightening for the ones who have never played against them earlier, but the skipper stresses on sticking to the basics and follows what they have learnt so far from the experience.
As rain played the spoilsport during India-New Zealand match at Nottingham, the Indian skipper assures everyone that the marquee clash with Pakistan is going to bring the best out of the team. And looking at the current scenario, India has some of the best players in the world. With the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, India right now are in its best form and are unbeaten in 2019's World Cup campaign so far. But we all know that things are completely unpredictable when it comes to India-Pakistan clash and the bonus is the historic ground of Old Trafford!
India's campaign so far
The Men in Blue kickstarted World Cup campaign on June 5 against South Africa where India beat South Africa by 6 wickets at Rose Bowl. Rohit Sharma scored a massive 122 (144) and Chahal impressed everyone by grabbing those 4 important wickets with Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar pitching in with two each.
The second game with Australia was quite of a nail-biting scenario but with Shikhar Dhawan's scintillating knock of 117(109) and then the bowling line up that was specifically curated for this clash played their role by beating Australia by 36 runs. So basically, India are completely charged up and hungry to win more games and as we all are aware of the fact that Pakistan has never defeated India in any of the World Cup matches so far. So this point is a bonus and a confidence booster for team India.
Talking about India's fielding capacity, every player is excellent with acceleration to grab that difficult catch. Rohit Sharma is considered as an outstanding slip and a safe catcher. On the other hand, Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav stand on a very intimidating position for the opponents' side. They perfectly have the capacity to make the batsman unapproachable as they continuously raid around the 30-yard range. Also, Hardik Pandya is of great help whenever something is falling short, be it with bat or bowl, so the team counts on him in all aspects.
The fans are also expecting a big game from the skipper as till now he has not been able to give his best shot since the start of the campaign. Therefore, expectations from Virat Kohli will be much higher here as this is his very first World Cup as a skipper and he has got the highest winning records so far. And to top it all Virat Kohli is just 57 runs away from becoming the fastest batsman to complete 11,000 ODI runs mark.
Pant joins the Indian team
The unfortunate incident that no one expected occurred during India-Australia clash where opener Shikhar Dhawan hurt his finger. Indian team management finally decided to go ahead with Rishabh Pant as a standby for injured Dhawan for the campaign. It has been cleared that Pant will only be named as Dhawan's batting replacement and Dhawan to remain as part of India's squad.
For team India, to decide the batting line-up is going to be tricky. It would be really helpful if the skipper sends KL Rahul comes to open with Rohit Sharma, then like usual Kohli can come next and as the situation goes the next line-up can be shuffled.
Doubtful Pak or wounded tigers?
Pakistan are right now like a wounded tiger who can hunt down anyone that comes into their way. Since Pakistan are struggling to survive in the ongoing World Cup and if they lose the marquee encounter, they will be on brink of going back home, so they are in no ways of taking any risks. Moreover, Pak skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has given an ultimatum to the players to take on the fielding standards at a higher level against India after a sloppy performance against Australia.
The team was brutally beaten by West Indies in their opening game by 7 wickets where they got all out at 105. The defeat was indeed an embarrassing one. After that Pakistan's confidence was boosted as they defeated tournament favourites England by 14 runs with a clinical performance. But this happened because Eoin Morgan's men displayed extremely poor fielding show. But it was nothing same when Pak met Australia as the tables were completely turned and Pak players were seen dropping catches, misfielding, overthrowing which multiplied in their loss.
After Australia was put to bat, the team set a chasing target of 307 with an extraordinary comeback by David Warner (107). But Pakistan failed to complete the target and got all out at 266, losing by 41 runs.
Mohammad Amir's form
The left-hand seam bowler has done a wonder against Australia by picking up his very first fifer as he became the seventh Pak bowler to achieve five-wicket haul. Coming to the left-handers, Indian batsmen struggle playing them especially Virat Kohli. Everyone was expecting a different game when he played against Mitchel Starc where he made sure that he hides his weaknesses.
Therefore, it would be an advantage for Amir to make him fall where he lacks the most. And considering Amir's form, he will be looking forward to taking on this big wicket and stutter the Indian batting line-up. We all remember that majestic opening spell that sent back Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma with his unplayable deliveries where Pakistan ended India's hopes to clinch ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in London. So this is going to be an advantage for Amir here as he is perfectly known to Indian batsmen's vulnerabilities.
Rain or no rain!
India-Pak clash is much loved and watched the game every time. And since the World Cup match is going to be on the historic ground of Old Trafford, there will be more than a huge crowd present to support both the teams. It is being learnt that the tickets for this match were sold within 48 hours after they were made live for purchase.
But as we all are seeing how rain is playing a spoilsport during this World Cup and ICC has already called off 4 matches including India's recent clash with New Zealand because of the weather. Therefore, fans are already frustrated as they would do not want to spoil their Sunday. To add to the fury of the fans, the British Metrological Dept is expecting sun and showers both. There will be sunny spells and warm sunlight with a temperature between 17 to 19 degree Celsius. If this situation persists then the regular show might get hampered.
Also, Old Trafford has a record that the teams who step out to bat first have just 40% chances to win the game and those who come out to chase have 60% chance of winning the match. And from this analysis, if Virat Kohli and Co get to bowl first then there are high chances of them winning the game as Kohli is considered as the world's best chase master.
The Indian team is definitely looking forward to giving their best against Pakistan as they already have an upper-hand against the team when it comes to World Cup with a 100% win record. Pakistan will be facing the strongest side of India on June 16 and if they can pass this hurdle, they can cut through any. But having said everything now, the excitement level for this much-awaited clash is at beyond human imagination.
India-Pak World Cup journey
1992, Sydney: India beats Pakistan by 43 runs
1996, Bangalore: India beats Pakistan by 39 runs
1999, Manchester: India beats Pakistan by 47 runs
2003, Centurion: Pakistan lost to India by six wickets
2011, Mohali: India beats Pakistan by 29 runs
2015, Adelaide: India beats Pakistan by 76 runs