As the tensions on the LOC escalate, the Sunday’s game between the arch rivals will witness heat after no progress was made on bilateral ties between the two cricket boards in the recent meeting at Dubai. The government of India has plainly said that there can be no bilateral cricket given the current strained relations between the countries.
But destiny eared the wishes of cricketing fans of both the countries.
June 4, Champions Trophy, Birmingham.
As they say, it is the mother of all arch rivalries, man! It's india v Pakistan. They say it is just a game, but all these theories of 'just a game' explode, when it comes to India v Pakistan game.
Fomer players of both the countries are still being remembered only for the performances of India-pakistan matches in their respective countries.
Miandad's last ball six, sachin's world cup innings, Anwar's 194, Prasad v Sohail in 96 wc, Afridi's consecutive sixes against Ashwin, Misbah's attempted scoop in t20 final, long haired Dhoni's 148, Imrans 6-14 in a losing cause, afridi's kanpur 100 and more performances are perfect examples.
Pakistan dominated most of the matches during the whole period of rivalry between the two nations and are still leading on head to head records but in last few years india has completely dominated the arch rivalry between the two countries on the cricket field.
So, on June 4, two arch rivals will face each other once again. Fans of both the teams will be glued to their tv sets, the tension will be more higher than the tension on the loc.
Let's have a little look at the teams and their strenghts and few weaknesses.
Going into this match, India are arguably the favourites to win. At first glance, it is hard to ignore the top batting line up with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat kohli, there is also Rahane, Yuraj, Dhoni, Kedar Jhadav and Dinesh karthik.
The other obvious strength is in their bowling this time around, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami are pacy, Bhubeneswar Kumar provides swing, Unorthodox Jasprit Bumrah and most importantly the spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja.
If Pakistan has to find a weakness in the Indian batting line up, it has to be the middle order, after the top 3, Yuraj and Dhoni aren't exactly in their prime, Jadhav and Pandya have done pretty well but both have played most of their cricket only in the sub continent. They lack experience and that could be a possible weak link in the batting. Also ashwin has been out of cricket for a couple of months and it remains to be seen if there is any rustiness.
Javed Miandad in an India Pakistan contest. He hit a last ball 6 of Chetan Sharma wining the final of Sharjah cup for Pakistan on Apr 18, 1986
Even though Indian squad looks much superior at least in the batting department than pakistan but cricketing history tells us Pakistan is unpredictable. It is the unpredictability of Pakistan cricket that cricket fans and experts love about them. On a given day they can beat anyone and can be beaten by even the weakest of the teams on another day.
The batting is dependent on the young shoulders of promising young star Babar Azam and veteran all rounder Shoaib Malik. The rest of the line up has been criticised by the pundits of the game for playing old style method and consuming too many dot balls during the course of their innings, players like Ahmed Shehzad, Hafeez, Azhar Ali need to come out of their comfort zone and play some aggressive type of cricket up front. Infact, Pakistan's biggest problem and weakness in ODI cricket is the unavailability of power hitters like Razzaq and Afridi. Pakistan's outrageously talented but mercurial pace bowling attack can turn the tables for them.
There will be plenty of eyes on Mohammed Aamir, since his return to international cricket he has been bowling very well but the swing he use to have earlier is missing. Wahab riaz is a rhythmic bowler, if he finds his rhythm, he will be hot to handle. Hasan ali has showed lot of temperament and promise with his bowling, While Imad Wasim with his left arm in dippers and shadab khan with his leg spinners will be doing the spin bowling duties.
The England conditions will be a bigger test for 18 year old Shadab Khan if he gets a game.
It also remains to be seen how Safaraz Ahmed, Captain of Pakistan cricket team goes about captaining a team in his first global tournament.
Pakistan are clearly the underdogs, in a sense it is an advantage if they can take it.
Safaraz rightly used the term 'nothing to lose' in a press conference in england. If they can play on the same term, they can surprise the few.
You never know with pakistan.
Prediction : 7/3 India
There is every chance that India will come out as victorious in Birmingham, but many who have written-off Pakistan cricket teams in the past have had their fingers burnt. Sunday’s clash sees Pakistan with nothing to lose and everything to gain – a situation which quite often sees them at their best.
The author is a sports editor with 'The Kashmiriyat' and can be emailed at email@example.com