• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Super match to kick off Super 10s

Bishwajit Roy
India batsman Yuvraj Singh chases a football during training at the BCB Academy ground yesterday, on the eve of their today's ICC World T20 crunch Super 10s match against archrivals Pakistan. Photo: Firoz Ahmed
India batsman Yuvraj Singh chases a football during training at the BCB Academy ground yesterday, on the eve of their today's ICC World T20 crunch Super 10s match against archrivals Pakistan. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

This Friday evening cannot be dull in any way, especially for those who are cricket followers. Cynics may complain of an overdose of cricket but you can be sure that all cricket watchers will have their television sets tuned to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur around 7:30 pm in the evening. The world will watch because the most passionate of cricket rivalries will be renewed in the opening match -- the Group 2 tussle between India and Pakistan -- of the Super 10 stage of the World Twenty20.
When India skipper MS Dhoni and his Pakistan counterpart Mohammad Hafeez spoke at the crowded pre-match briefing yesterday, their emotions may have been kept in check but for millions of subcontinent fans it is one of the sport's most nerve-wracking and emotional contests and an expected full house at the home of Bangladesh cricket will be proof of that.
The skills and tactics are pivotal but more is needed to win a battle in such a contest. Just think about the brilliance of Shahid Afridi who suddenly came out of his bad patch to defeat India in the Asia Cup -- his name comes readily to mind when talking about today's contest and he will certainly be on Indian minds as well.
Nerves will play a big part in the prestigious battle although the Pakistan skipper dismissed notions that the game is more important than winning the trophy. So in this match focusing only on each others' weaknesses and strengths will not do, something extra is needed.
While Dhoni spoke of the modern professional attitude replacing the harshest edges of old rivalry, the recent Asia Cup defeat will be hurting India just as Pakistan will be indignant of their winless record against India in World Cups. A win or defeat may not decide the teams' fate in the tournament but it will hurt the egos of many.
The nature of the pitch may not be very crucial as both teams have enough weapons in their arsenal to exploit subcontinental conditions. Traditionally however, India versus Pakistan has always been a battle between India's vaunted batting order and Pakistan's versatile bowling attack, which is full of variety including the likes of 35-year-old Zulfiqar Babar's left-arm spin.
Without the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh in the middle India had some shortage in their armoury but the proven fighters are back. A marked disadvantage is their bowling in Powerplays and death overs. And the focus would be on Mohammad Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin.


Pakistan's batting might be inconsistent but they have enough firepower in openers Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan, Hafeez himself, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shoaib Malik and of course Afridi. And in bowling there are plenty of game-changers.
India has the no-loss record in the ICC events while Pakistan has the Asia Cup momentum, so there is enough for each side to draw strength from, all that is left to see is who will be better on the day.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2014

Last modified: 3:31 am Friday, March 21, 2014

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