It has turn out to be a little bit of a pattern to have one in all the showpieces matches of the World Cup round one month into the event. From a logistics and broadcasting perspective it is sensible: both India v Pakistan injects new life right into a event that is perhaps flagging a bit, or it boosts an already high-flying event additional. In 1996 and 1999, the match up occurred after the group phases, and so owed a bit to luck. This time, each India and Pakistan are in the identical group, and the tip of the primary spherical is in sight.
This is India’s final league match. Pakistan have another in hand, towards Zimbabwe, for which the forecast just isn’t too vivid.
India are higher positioned, having shrugged off the beginning blues of a huffing and puffing victory over the Netherlands and a crushing nine-wicket defeat to Australia to string collectively wins towards Zimbabwe, Namibia and England. Pakistan have had nearly the identical outcomes as India – with the important thing distinction being they had been beaten by England.
The extra refined distinction to this India-Pakistan match-up is that for the primary time in World Cups, India enter this recreation as favourites. Through the 1990s, Pakistan had been the stronger facet. Even although they by no means managed to beat India in a World Cup match – an aberration that’s threatening to tackle the form of a bogey now – they’d the higher outcomes bilaterally and total. Now, it is India who’re the stronger facet. The resurgence that started on the flip of the century below the cost of the Sourav Ganguly-John Wright duo has meant India have steadily turn out to be a higher drive.
That has coincided with Pakistan’s cream of the 1990s having handed their peaks.
That mentioned, the Pakistan bowling continues to be one which conjures up awe. Wasim Akram already has 12 wickets, second-highest within the event. Shoaib Akhtar is not too far behind, however his ten wickets have come at a excessive financial system of 5.29. Captain Waqar Younis has had a quieter time.
As has traditionally been the case, the battle that may get probably the most consideration is that of India’s batsmen towards Pakistan’s bowlers. That excessive financial system charge of Akhtar’s will must be reined in towards the Sachin Tendulkar–Virender Sehwag opening combo. Tendulkar, particularly, has hit the zone on this event. Already the main run-scorer, his 371 runs are practically thrice as many as Pakistan’s main run-getter Yousuf Youhana, who has 128.
Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have additionally been among the many runs. With India’s Big Three in type, and the glowing abilities of Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif round them, India’s batting appears to be like settled after their rocky begin. The bowling is perhaps what provides India an edge. Their tempo trio of Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra won’t fairly have the ring of Akram-Akhtar-Younis to it, however they’ve come collectively properly on this event. Nehra, significantly, might be flying excessive. He slipped and fell on after bowling only one ball towards Namibia. There had been harm fears about his seemingly always-brittle physique, however three days later, he destroyed England with 6 for 23.
So whereas the India’s batsmen towards Pakistan’s bowlers battle might be riveting, the one between India’s improved bowlers and Pakistan’s faltering batsmen would possibly show equally decisive.
India WWWLW (final 5 accomplished ODIs, most up-to-date first)
In the highlight
He was the important thing wicket on this match-up in 1996 and 1999. He was an essential wicket in 1992, and gained Man of the Match then. And Sachin Tendulkar continues to be the wicket all opposition captains need above all others in 2003 as nicely. He has already gone the place no man has in ODI cricket, the primary to cross the 10,000-run mark, and it is exceptional how central he has been to India’s fortunes for greater than a decade now.
He has been a rejuvenated man on this event, again at his favorite opening spot. From May 2002 until the New Zealand sequence simply earlier than the beginning of this World Cup, Tendulkar has batted at No. 4 (twice at No. 3). But on the double precept of ‘give your finest batsman as many balls to face as doable’ and ‘let your finest batsman bat the place he feels most comfy’ – India have handed the opening spot again to Tendulkar. The outcomes have proven instantly. His lowest rating in 5 matches up to now is 36, and he is hit not less than a half-century in every of the opposite innings.
Pakistan have to do what no different bowling assault has managed up to now within the event, and get Tendulkar earlier than he hits his stride. It’s a vanishingly small window.
Wasim Akram went wicket-less in 1992, was compelled to tug out simply earlier than the match in 1996 to an enormous controversy, and had an honest outing in 1999 with out his common wizardry. Now 37, it is unlikely he’ll get one other tilt at India in a World Cup recreation. He must summon up one magic burst, ideally on the prime of the innings to place India’s vaunted batting line-up on the again foot. He’s coming off a five-wicket haul – albeit towards Namibia – however he is proven that flashes of the outdated genius nonetheless stay. Akram needed to cop huge criticism within the wake of the 1996 loss. He has seen greater than most how an India-Pakistan match could make or mar fortunes. His legacy will not get affected by a failure on this recreation, however success right here would possibly simply add a pleasant little bow to a legendary profession that’s in its twilight.
India have proven a marked desire for an assault comprising three seamers and a spinner up to now, and there isn’t any motive to consider that may change. Khan, Srinath and Nehra have manned the tempo assault, whereas Harbhajan Singh has been most well-liked over Anil Kumble, little question gaining an edge resulting from his higher batting and fielding chops. India can afford to go along with 4 specialist bowlers solely as a result of a number of of their batsmen bowl. They can name on any of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Ganguly or Dinesh Mongia to ship a couple of overs.
Having strung collectively a profitable sequence since that loss to Australia, India would possibly wish to follow their mixture and ways.
India (possible): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Sourav Ganguly (capt), 4 Dinesh Mongia, 5 Rahul Dravid (wk), 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 Mohammad Kaif, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Javagal Srinath, 11 Ashish Nehra
Pakistan have not had as settled a line-up as India, although they could wish to contemplate bringing again the mercurially gifted Shahid Afridi for this encounter. In a match of nerves, his insouciant X-factor may tilt the scales in the direction of Pakistan. If they bring about again Afridi, the person to overlook out could possibly be both Taufeeq Umar or Saleem Elahi, although being an opener would possibly give Umar some cushion.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Taufeeq Umar, 2 Saeed Anwar, 3 Abdul Razzaq, 4 Inzamam-ul-Haq, 5 Yousuf Youhana, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Rashid Latif (wk), 8 Wasim Akram, 9 Waqar Younis (capt), 10 Shoaib Akhtar, 11 Saqlain Mushtaq
Pitch and circumstances
The SuperSport Park in Centurion could also be within the Highveld in South Africa, however it will have a subcontinental air to it come March 1. India beat South Africa within the very first ODI held here in 1992, however their thrashing by the arms of Australia per week in the past was additionally at this venue. The pitch ought to be a great one-day wicket, with runs on supply, and the match is not going to be threatened by rain.
Since his debut, Saeed Anwar is one in all solely three openers to have made greater than 8000 ODI runs as an opener. Only Tendulkar (9114) and Sanath Jayasuriya (8302) are forward of him in that interval.