Match Timing: 19:30 IST (14:00 GMT);Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Preview: Defeat in the hands of New Zealand in Nagpur has left only one option for India that is winning over arch-rival Pakistan or loose the sheen forever.
Pakistan, which has failed to win in ten 50-over World Cup and the World T20 matches over India, will test whether the jinx will be overcome against the hosts in the City of Joy where Shahid Afridi’s men were at home on a winning streak.
As Waqar Younis pointed out, Pakistan is facing India for the first time without any baggage pressure. “This is the first time that the pressure is more on India – not arising from victory or defeat at the hands of Pakistan but because they have lost the last game, they must be worried that they can go out – playing in your own country, such a huge tournament,” said Younis, the Pakistan coach.
Pakistan has played in Eden six times and won five with one loss, an impressive number to repeat its winning streak again. India too has scored milestones here. It was in Eden Rohit Sharma recorded the highest score in ODI cricket.
Pakistan has played two games in Eden in the last five days, while India is hoping to repeat its unbeaten World Cup streak against Pakistan to 11. Its debacle against New Zealand has put a stop to its over-confidence but playing against Pakistan rekindles different spirits among Indian players that Pakistan knows its impact.
The huge gap between the net run-rates (NRR) of the two sides is another telling tale but Pakistan is second in the group with an NRR of +2.750, while Indian team finds itself at fourth place with worrying NRR of -2.350, much worse than even No. 3 Australia (-0.400). The Aussies lost to New Zealand, who now have 2/2 wins and a foot already into the semis.
Top two teams from each of the two Super-10 groups progress to the semis and unless India extends the jinx of Pakistan, it cannot end in the semi-finals. Besides Dhoni, none of the batsmen stood the Kiwi test, falling like a pack of cards. Changes could be there with Hardik Pandya’s place going to others and Mohammed Shami or Pandya, or Pawan Negi or Harbhajan Singh.
However, India vs Pakistan will be a different game of nerves than players as spirits run high and little is left for any foul play.
Finally, Indian team is under pressure with one loss and Pakistan is aloft with recent wins. Who will bring the mettle on to the ground will decide who takes the game away. India needs to reckon its luck and pride to win the match today.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad,Anwar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami.
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