The D-day is getting close. The clash of the titans, India with Pak, is slated for 30-Mar. Its been more than 8 years since India beat Pak in a world cup encounter. Hence, the build up to this match is huge; almost unimaginable.
On the day of the QF, the streets were empty by 6pm before India began their batting. All eyes were glued to the tv screen or the mobile screen for regular updates. If India can come to a semi-stand-still when playing against Aus, wonder what will happen during SF. Its quite obvious that in this part of the world, in cricket frenzy nations like India & Pak; both countries will come to a total stand-still. Even the elected heads of the two nations would be watching the match, its been such a kind of atmosphere.
Coming back to the game, both teams have fought well and come to this stage which is being termed as ‘mother of all matches’. Pressure is on both teams but more on Pak, although Pak is claiming that pressure is on India to win in their home ground. So, why is the pressure more on Pak?
For the simple reason that, Pak has never beaten India in a world cup match. In the last 4 encounters, India has won all 4 against Pak handsomely; last of it being in 2003. Pak has lost while chasing as well as while defending a total. This gives India the confidence that they don’t have to worry about batting first or bowling first. Lets go over some of the wins that we have had on them in world cup, as well as compare the 2 teams in all those matches.
2003 was a great year for India at the WC. We made it to the finals but lost, and yet some think that beating Pak in itself was like winning the cup. Rhetoric aside, Pak was a strong team in 2003. They had the bowling strength of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar & Waqar Younis; and the batting strength of Inzamam & Youhana; but the current Pak team is young and inexperienced. Anyways, Pak won the toss and batted first. 273 was a great total, especially in a high pressure match. Akram was grinning ear to ear when Pak completed their innings as the bowlers had a sizeable total to defend. But the smiles soon faded as the Tendulkar and Sehwag assaulted the bowlers and hit them all round the park. Tendulkar’s brilliant 98 and a fine finish by Yuvraj in the end saw India beat the Pakis. That was a great win.
Much before this match, when India played Pak in 1996 WC match, it was a different situation. India batted first and were heading for a mediocre total of 220+, but the lusty blows of Ajay Jadeja lifted the score to a decent 287. Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar provided them a fine start and Pak were very much in the hunt and had reached a good steady position in their chase. But a hot headed Sohail exchanged some words with medium pacer Venkatesh Prasad. What followed next changed the match and tilted the balance in India’s favour. Prasad bowled a slower one and fooled Sohail into pushing at the ball, which he missed totally and his stumps were scattered. Pak has still not forgiven Sohail for that, as the batting collapsed.
Similarly in 1992, India batted first and setup a paltry total of 216 backed by Tendulkar’s fifty. Pak did not go about the chase well and crumbled for 173. It was the same match where Javded Miandad made a fool of himself when he jumped up and down, trying to tease Kiran More.
In 1999 too, Pak were chasing a small total of 227 and they were all out for 180. Pak does not have a world cup temperament. All teams of Pak were led by capable captains, be it Imran or Akram or Haq; all of them lost to India. So, what chance does an erratic Shahid Afridi have?
Of course in a world cup match, all statistics become irrelevant as its the performance on that particular day is what matters. But history is on our side. We have done it in the past and we can go into this match trying to repeat history. The hstory will give us the confidence and a positive attitude to play well and dominate Pak.
This Pak team is the weakest one in years. They have a captain who performs with the ball but not the bat, loses his cool on players and he was not even the first choice for captain a few months ago. Moreover, Pak’s batting has been disastrous. The only thing going in Pak’s favor is bowling of Umar Gul. But I am not sure if Gul has the fire power to demolish India. It will take more than a few good balls to get the likes of Tendulkars and Yuvrajs.
India, on the other hand, have a cool captain who has been doing good captaincy and keeping the wickets well. He hasn’t performed with the bat yet, but this may just be the occasion that he was waiting for. India’s bowling mess has been sorted out, Zaheer has been in tremendous form and Ashwin has been accurate as well as wicket taking. India’s strength has been batting and they have displayed that well. In the last match against Australia, everyoe chipped in with the bat. In the top 5 batsmen of the tournament, we have 2 Indians Sachin and Sehwag; while Yuvraj has been MoM on 4 occasions, hitting fifties and taking wickets.
Having said the above, I do think Pak have an outside chance if they perform with the bat. Even if we consider for a moment that they get India all out for 220+, will their batsmen manage to chase the score?
Past performance aside, even on current form, India scores against Pak on every factor. India has the strength to beat Pak and I am sure we will do it. Having beaten the defending champions Aus, this should not be a big task. Without wasting more time, we should go for the kill. If we bat first, bat Pak out of the match by making 300+. If we ball first, try and get them out within 250. Forget the pitch, this match will be won or lost in the minds of the players. Those who soak in pressure will win it, and India seems to be the team who does that best. Come on India, make us proud!
This post was first published on Yahoo Network