Cricket, the Gentleman’s Game, prepares for the mother of all rivalries as India take on Pakistan in the Group B clash of the T20 World Cup 2022 Super 12 on Sunday. Though the rain threat is looming large over the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is bracing itself for an audience of 1 lakh people, fans are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping for a full 40-over contest. The echoes of India’s 10-wicket defeat against Pakistan are still haunting Indian cricket loyalists and Rohit Sharma would hope to turn the tables as he steps onto the field as a captain in a World Cup for the first time ever.
India have traditionally done very well against Pakistan in World Cups (both T20 and ODI) but the last showdown between the two sides in UAE turned out to be a contrasting tale. Shaheen Afridi ran riot with the new ball as India struggled to impose themselves, both with the bat and the ball. Though Virat Kohli scored a half-century, the team’s total of 151 proved too little for Pakistan.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan remained unbeaten, scoring 68 and 79 respectively, as Pakistan hammered India by 10 wickets to win their first World Cup match against the neighboring country ever.
The echoes of India’s lacklustre performance in the T20 World Cup saw a plethora of changes being made, both in terms of support staff and players. A similar shake-up could be in place if the Indian team doesn’t produce a much-better show this time around.
Selection dilemma for Team India
A dilemma over the selection of wicket-keeper remains for India, with Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant vying for the spot behind the stumps. Karthik seems to have a little edge over Pant, owing to a better run of form but the team management might prefer a left-hander in the middle order.
Mohammed made a big impression in the warm-up match against Australia but would that solitary performance earn him a place in the playing XI? The likes of Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were included in the 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup well before Shami came in as Jasprit Bumrah’s injury replacement. Shami’s performance, both against Australia and in the nets, however, could force the team management to take some bold calls.
For Pakistan, the misfiring middle order remains the biggest concern. It is the lack of reliability in the middle order that sometimes forces Babar and Rizwan to adopt a conservative approach at the top. Against India, however, such an approach might not yield the desired results.
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