Pakistan has never beaten India in the world cup cricket_ a hard and bitter bare fact and well yes a jinx maybe! But the history has to change its course somewhere. So what’s the harm if it takes a diversion on coming Wednesday?
Having remained invincible for so long against Pakistan adds to the vulnerability of the Indian team just as the Aussies came crashing down after a remarkable winning streak of thirty four matches to lose two successive games_ the last one sending them packing back home.
It is not just the statistics, though skewed heavily in favour of India, that make its victory improbable but the immense home ground pressure against arch rivals Pakistan coupled with its inconsistent performances. Whatever the outcome is going to be, nothing can be more electrifying than the mouth watering clash between India and Pakistan.
Having advanced to the semi finals, the game ensures representation of at least one team from the sub continent in the final thus continuing an intermittent pattern of regional supremacy. Both sides have obvious strengths and weaknesses that make the contest even and potentially highly interesting.
With an unending depth in its batting, India can perhaps boast of the most potent and annihilating batting arsenal the one day game has ever known. Batting first on any surface, the team can never be sure of ‘a potentially safe’ total if that happens to be setting a target for the Indians to chase. With the likes of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Gambhir, Yousaf or Raina, the tormenting lineup on a home ground is capable of accomplishing any score that seems improbable. The only ray of hope is the vulnerability to collapse that the Indian middle and lower batting order has displayed time and again during the world cup.
India’s biggest weakness lies in its makeshift bowling attack_ an ordinary and average lineup that has been unable to defend humungous totals like 338 and 297 on its own pitches. If Pakistan has to win, it will definitely have to target a couple of weak links in the Indian bowling chain. How well will Pakistan cope without having a chance to acclimatize to the conditions and playing for the first time on Indian soil in nearly four years is anybody’s guess!?
In contrast, Pakistan’s main strength lies in its bowling resources. Traditionally known to enjoy supremacy in fast bowling faculty, the spin bowlers have been very effective so far in the tournament. This, in all likelihood, is the one clear edge that Pakistan has maintained over the rest of the teams and has been the main driving force behind the Pakistani victories. Talking of the game at hand, Shoaib’s appearance can be decisive even if there are some differences brewing up in the dressing room.
Averse to chase and batting in pressure situations, Pakistan’s best bet lies in getting a sizeable total and then restricting India by bowling on a cracking pitch. In case India bats first, restricting India to a chase able total can prove testing. Remember our batting has been tested only once by New Zealand and that was the match that we lost with a phenomenal margin.
In the end what is most crucial are the nerves and the team that deals with the enormous pressure by staying calm and collective gives itself a fair chance to sail through.
And like I have been emphasising throughout the tournament, defying all logic and reason, nothing serves us better than our unpredictability. If qualifying by securing most points and climbing to the top of the pool and then storming to the semis in a mesmerising royal fashion was unpredictable, why not beating India and then cruising to penultimate victory in the finals!?
Go greens go!
All the way!