It will all rely on how well left-arm bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first spell goes because India is a vastly superior team on paper and has a batting line-up full of alpha-male characters. The cross-border neighbors might not be short on intent, but they are definitely short on firepower.
India vs Pakistan World Cup 2023: Will Shubman Gill be fit to play match vs Pakistan?
But in this game, emotional factors come into play, and over the years, it has produced both heroes and monsters in equal measure.
Ask Javed Miandad and Chetan Sharma, Saleem Malik and Maninder Singh, Ajay Jadeja and Waqar Younis, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Saqlain Mushtaq, Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar, Virat Kohli and Wahab Riaz, Joginder Sharma and Misbah ul Haq (albeit in T20 WC), as this contest is replete with examples of agony and ecstasy, unbridled joy and heart-breaks of a lifetime, which never seem to find closure.
Shaheen, which translates to “King of Birds” in Urdu, is a title Rohit won’t mind giving himself as soon as possible within a massive amphitheater with room for 132,000 spectators.
Shubman Gill is healing well from dengue, and if he were to deflate Pakistanis to half the extent that he did in the Asia Cup in Colombo with those half a dozen fours in Powerplay against Shaheen, it would be accomplished.
The master puller would like to assert his dominance first, which would set the stage for players like Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and KL Rahul to build upon during the middle overs, where Pakistan might be slightly underserved due to a lack of quality spinners.
Shadab Khan, the vice-captain of Pakistan, has given 100 runs in 16 overs over the course of the two games, and he, along with Hasan Ali, a new ball bowler, could be an easy target for the Indians.
Keeping in mind that Pakistan’s second spinner has been their weakest link thus far.
Yes, there is a forecast for bad weather, but nobody wants anything to prevent a full cricket match.
Against Sri Lanka, Mohammed Rizwan was outstanding, and Abdullah Shafique displayed his talent. On any given day, Saud Shakeel has the potential to be a “x-factor.” But Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain, is crucial to the team’s batting.
Even so, the conflict between Babar and Kuldeep Yadav may add an intriguing subtext to the game.
One could watch the left-arm wrist-spinner’s leg-break that got Babar in trouble in Manchester in 2019 as many times as possible.
Kuldeep had previously lost his flight, loop, dip, and deception, but now that he has them back, the spinner can spell disaster for Babar and his team.
A good example is the Asia Cup game in Colombo. However, Pakistan must overcome the first spell of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj in order to neutralize Kuldeep.
As opposed to spanking Matheesha Pathirana, negating Bumrah and Siraj might be much more difficult, as Rizwan and Shafique would be aware of.
India’s only current dilemma is deciding between R Ashwin and Shardul Thakur, who are both vying for the No. 8 spot.
Shardul is a better option if the pitch is ideal for batting, but Ashwin is a better option with longer boundaries on each side if there is some available grip.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni disapproved of the way the terms “war” and “revenge” were used in relation to Indo-Pak relations, whereas Rohit constantly reiterates to anyone who will listen that he believes in “shutting the outside noise.”
Being a social animal, it is however very difficult to ignore the history of Indo-Pak conflicts and the escalating animosity over time, which leads crazy fans to believe that this is “not just another game” but rather “The Game.”
People who believe that “Don’t need to win the World Cup but don’t lose to Pakistan” are still around, and they number in the thousands.
In reality, all seven of the World Cup matches between India and Pakistan have been dull affairs in which India won well before the game was declared over.
However, these matches have a unique charm and archival tidbits of events that over time turned into urban legends.
Indo-Pak cricketing folklore now includes Miandad’s humorous parody of Kiran More’s celebration in Sydney in 1992, Venkatesh Prasad’s irate farewell to Aamir Sohail, and the ugly altercation between Harbhajan Singh and Mohammed Yousuf in Centurion.
Even if India lose, it will still be just another game and nothing will change. Six matches would be available to make amends, so it wouldn’t be a tragedy or the end of the road for the two protagonists.
But if India win, as it has on the previous seven occasions, everyone will have something to smile about as well as some hope and faith.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim
(With PTI inputs)