The Sunday match between India and Pakistan at Adelaide will be a litmus test for India’s pride and Pakistan’s aggressive bowling. Going by the past record, India has beaten Pakistan in all five previous World Cup meetings in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011 and a miss now would mean disaster for the Men in Blue on Sunday.
But the mind-boggling question is whether the Indian team is in its full form to take on the umblical rival Pakistan. Despite heroic efforts by the men of MS Dhoni, they have proved thrice that they are not in their best form, especially after the Tri-Series.
Ironic but so is the Pakistani team. They have also just lost two matches in New Zealand, and haven’t shown their mettle even in the United Arab Emirates, giving rise to hopes in India that the match on Sunday would give them the sixth win in a row against Pakistan at the World Cup.
Former cricket legend and BCCI chief Sunil Gaaskar said, “Both teams are not really in the best of form, so it’s possible for Pakistan to beat India.” He is not saying it without reason as India under M.S. Dhoni this time has shown one its its worst performances.
For the first time in World Cup history, both the teams go into the tournament really with no great form, no great touch, but in a packed stadium of 50,000 in Australia to kep temeprs high throughout the match.
But former batsman VVS Laxman points out that the inconsistency in Pakistan’s team, its dependence on spinner Saeed Ajmal whom it could not replace, and no great player of stature to reckon with.
“(Pakistan) are a dangerous team, but have been very inconsistent. I think they have still not got an answer to the loss of Saeed Ajmal. They are hugely-dependent on him and I think they don’t have a wicket-taking bowler of his capability,” Laxman told NDTV.
Echoing similar views, former Australian skipper Ian Chappell has pointed out that lack of potential players in the current Pakistan team makes India get an edge.
“Pakistan had guys like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and Inzamam in the 1992 World Cup, who could win you matches. I am not sure that Pakistan have got some players of that calibre at the moment. Particularly in bowling, I think losing Junaid Khan is a big blow for them. So, I think that India will start favorites,” Chappell told NDTV.
Another reason in favour of India is that they have been staying in Australia for over 3 months and the team is used to the weather and pitch conditions thoroughly compared to any other team but the hosts themselves. Even if Pakistan goes for a couple of practice games, it will not greatly help them come into form, Chappell said.
“I think that there will be pride at stake for India. They certainly won’t want to be the first Indian team that loses to Pakistan in a World Cup. So, that’s probably enough to get them over the line,” said Chappell hitting on the core point as to why India should win the match on Sunday.