There are a few games during which rankings, form, prospects and position in the table hardly matter. An India-Pakistan game is one such. The rivalry between the two teams has seen them produce some rivetting entertainers and this game could be no different. India could see their semi-final prospects disappear if they are to lose this game while for Pakistan a win could seal a spot in the last 4.
Both the teams have some forgettable records against their name and one of them could be broken when the arch-rivals go head-to-head. Pakistan have never registered a win against India at World Cups while India have failed to register even a single win at the Super 8s after their victorious 2007 WC campaign.
Both teams will be going all-out for the win knowing that it would give the fans and themselves much to cheer about, even if they do not end up taking the cup at the end.
India come into the match after having been annihilated by the mighty Aussies in their first super 8s match. India looked ill at ease with the bat and with the ball as they were walloped by Australia. Dhoni’s men may revisit the plan to play with 5 bowlers knowing that Pakistan are much better players of spin.
Irfan Pathan’s lack of firepower up top could prompt the team to bring back the swashbuckling Virender Sehwag while the over-dependance on Virat Kohli to steady the ship and provide the platform would be a serious cause for concern. Suresh Raina performance would have given India a few cheers, but they will want the left hander to do the kind of job he is known for rather than do the consolidating job. There have also been experts who have pointed out that India have rushed Yuvraj Singh back into the side. With his form and overall fitness being a concern, he might make way for another batsman.
India’s bowling will present the think-tank with the most questions. Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla looked only of shadow of themselves that ripped through the England side in the group stage match. While R Ashwin too was poor.
Zaheer Khan good showing was the silver lining for India and they will hope betters his performance by picking up a few wickets.
Pakistan come in to game carrying a bit of momentum. They managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to a brilliant lower-order stand against South Africa and will hope to carry forward their momentum. Their bowling was top-drawer stuff even with Umar Gul not being used to full potential.
Pakistan’s batting will be a worry as the team buckled under pressure chasing a sub-par target. Mohd Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik all failed to create an impact and it was left to Umar Akmal and Umar Gul to rescue them.
Pak will be hoping the collective failure was just a one-off incident and that the top can come good in the marquee game.
Everything looks rosy for Pakistan on the bowling front, their spinners Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohd Hafeez and Shahid Afridi complete a brilliant spin attack while Yasir Arafat and Umar Gul are more-than-capable bowlers with both the new ball and towards the end.
Watch out for
Yuvraj Singh: The left hander still hasn’t had the impact that he would have hoped for after his return. With India’s chances of progressing depending on this match; Yuvraj, if included, could bring out his best game.
Nasir Jamshed: The top order batsman has been widely renowned as one to look out for during this tournament and he has done his prospects no harm with a good show so far. Another big game against the arch-rivals will go a long way in emphasizing his status as a hot propect.
Former India players Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar have questioned the hasty comeback of Yuvraj Singh after he recovered from cancer earlier this year. Both feel he is not back to full fitness. Shastri said Yuvraj should be left out for the crucial Super Eights match against Pakistan on Sunday, and Manjrekar said he should have been left out of the game against Australia too.
“My contention is, [for] eight months Yuvraj Singh has hardly played cricket, and when it comes to India vs Pakistan I’m not the kind to get emotional,” Shastri told TIMES NOW. “I want to pick the best team and beat them. You can’t be sentimental here, but be practical.”
“My team would have Sehwag opening the innings, especially against Australia,” Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo. “I think it was an opportunity missed, because that was the kind of attack Sehwag likes on this kind of a pitch.
“I would have dropped Yuvraj Singh from my team in that last match, purely because we have seen in the last few matches Yuvraj Singh is still not quite 70% or 80%, maybe it is time now to slowly get him to work on his fitness, keep him involved in Indian cricket, but leaving out Sehwag was not such a good idea because he does what you need right at the start of the innings: put the opposition under pressure.”
Yuvraj was included in the World Twenty20 squad, ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, even before he had had any serious match practice, and has played only a handful of T20s since undergoing chemotherapy in March. Shastri said Yuvraj’s rustiness was obvious.
Hafeez: Since we have won against them in the warm-up game, it will give us confidence going into the match. That victory has been a real morale booster for us and the boys are upbeat and raring to go against India.
MS Dhoni: We will go out their and express ourselves without thinking too much about the result. Obviously, we can’t do worse than what we did against Australia, so we should go out there and play freely. Since we have to win two matches, we have no room for complacency.
Pakistan (From): Mohammad Hafeez(c), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal(w), Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Sohail Tanvir
India (From): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Manoj Tiwary