News Analysis |
The sizeable Indian and Pakistani expatriates community will inundate Edgbaston, Birmingham on Sunday as both teams will lock horns in the much-awaited group B fixture of the Champions Trophy. Considered as the most fierce cricketing rivalry, Indo-Pak canters are not only a fan’s delight but are cash cows for broadcasters and advertisers, besides having political undertones. The tie will be all the more heated because relations between the two countries in regards politics and cricket are severed. Last week, the Indian government ruled out the possibility of bilateral matches between the two owed to rising tensions at the political, military, and diplomatic levels.
Both teams will be facing each other after a lapse of 28 months.
“India-Pakistan cannot play bilateral series till terror from Pakistan remains,” the Union minister for sports told reporters last week.
Politics aside, Sunday’s game will not be affected and will become the center of attraction for over a billion people in the erstwhile sub-continent.
Both teams will be facing each other after a lapse of 28 months when India drubbed Pakistan in the World Cup fixture in 2015.
Head to Head and previous face-offs in the Champions Trophy
Pakistan has the upper hand when it comes to the overall record in ODIs. Pakistan has defeated India in 72 matches while India has won 51 matches. However, the balance has slightly tilted in the past decade and a half. Since June 2000, both times have played 40 ODIs with India winning 22 and Pakistan 18.
Pakistan also has a better record in the Champions Trophy encounters. Both have played thrice with Pakistan winning 2 while India took the honors in the last fixture at the very ground which will host Sunday’s match.
Arch rivals played each other in the 2004 edition for the first time. The venue was Birmingham and the contest was worth the hype. An electrifying environment was matched by some terrific cricket from both teams. The pace of Shoaib Akhtar and the wittiness of Rana Naved Ul Hasan restricted India to a below-par 200. Pakistan was in tatters with 6 down for 152. However, the blitz of the maverick Shahid Afridi and the calmness of Muhammad Yousaf helped Pakistan clinch the victory with 4 balls to spare.
Defending champions and one of the strongest contenders to lift the trophy, India has a pretty balanced side.
In the 2009 edition, a brilliant century by Shoaib Malik and a well-crafted 87 from Muhammad Yousaf gave a formidable 302 for Pakistan to defend, which they did through a concerted effort from Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and quickies in Muhammad Amir and Rana Naved Ul Hasan.
The last tie was a dead rubber; India cruised to victory against a jaded Pakistani outfit in a truncated match.
A comparison: What are the odds?
Defending champions and one of the strongest contenders to lift the trophy, India has a pretty balanced side. Led by the go-getting and prolific Viral Kohli, the side has a good mix of youth and experience. As usual, India would bank upon its formidable batting line-up spearheaded by the skipper, Kohli. India’s batting unit is fairly strong with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan, and the hard-hitting Yuvraj Singh being in the mix. The role of M S Dhoni, the man who led India to victory in the last event, will be twofold. One that he would steady the situation with his batting and two that he would practically guide the team with his successful captaincy experience.
Dhoni, Yuvraj, and Kohli have performed exceptionally well against Pakistan in the past. In fact, Dhoni’s rise to fame was through his swashbuckling 148 vs Pakistan way back in 2005. The balance would be provided by all-rounders like Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. The bowling will depend upon the magical Ravichandran Ashwin, the pace of Muhammad Shami, and Umesh Yadav. India has the pace and guile to trouble an even otherwise feeble Pakistani batting line up.
India does have the upper hand by considering all factors, but Pakistan has the propensity to spring a surprise.
Pakistan is relatively a weaker team with brittle batting line up. The team is infested with a laid back approach to ODI cricket, which is a real bane for them going into the match. Ahmed Shehzad and Azhar Ali have played India twice and have had very little success. The new star in the mix, Babar Azam, will be playing India for the first time and hence all eyes will be on him.
However, the impetus will be provided by the experienced Shoaib Malik who has a fantastic record against India, having scored 4 tons against them. Traditionally a bowling-reliant outfit, Pakistan will be banking upon Muhammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, who’ll be looking to emulate his stellar performance in the 2011 World Cup semi-final. Junaid Khan needs to get his mojo back if he has to cause the impact that he did in 2013. It is a dream for players to partake in an Indo-Pak tie. Newbies like Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, and Shadab Khan will look to grab a chance to become overnight heroes.
India does have the upper hand by considering all factors, but Pakistan has the propensity to spring a surprise. While both countries will be rooting for their respective teams, cricket aficionados will hope that the match lives up to the razzmatazz associated with this arch-rivalry.