Pakistan vs India… Just these words, are enough for anyone to feel the excitement, anticipation, tension and passion. Falling short of words to start this blog with, backspacing whatever I wrote at least a million times because this phrase is enough to rattle the nerves (at least mine.)
Nerve wrecking, spellbinding, earth shattering… these are some of the phrases normally used to describe the biggest rivalry in the cricketing world between Team India and Team Pakistan, as the stadium is set and lit where these giants will face each other and lock horns in the 22nd game of the ICC World Cup 2019 clash at Manchester that was sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale, nearly a year prior to the World Cup. As this ‘game’ (read war) that gets more eyeballs than possibly any other single event across the globe, is here with its seventh installation.
Crazy feelings. Crazy ticket prices…
No less than a war, the cricket match between these two Asian neighbors is always touted to be the “greatest rivalry” for which the world awaits eagerly. One thing synonymous with every India-Pakistan cricket match is the emotions attached to it. Not just the players, but fans on both side are high always on adrenaline and sarcasm.
Although due to ‘always-existing’ political tensions, the two cricketing giants don’t feature in bilateral ties. But whenever they do come face to face, there is always a great level of anticipation. The level of hype… for every cricket lover out there (myself included) I’m sure words fall short to describe that feeling. With every match played between the two giants, the excitement goes up. ‘Game #22’ in World Cup’19 is legit the ‘Father’ of all clashes- as it is to be played between India and Pakistan (on this father’s day… ICC fully using the holiday to ignite a fire between the two) today in Old Trafford stadium, Manchester. The level of passion amongst the fans is such that the tickets of this match were sold out within hours of the ticket window opening, with the spectators willing to pay an insane amount to watch this high-octane encounter between the arch-rivals. As this stadium can cater a capacity of 2000+, the ticket prices ranged from $598- $1889 (I’m sure we don’t even want to know how much money that will in rupees… because we can watch it for free on our screens along with almost a billion others- fact) which is Rs20,171- Rs62, 610 (ESTIMATEDLY).
Shaheen’s in sight.
Even though the left-hand Pakistan opener has not been able to score many runs in the World Cup thus far, but he hasn’t looked out of touch and has looked exceptional in patches. Fakhar could be a well threat to India, against whom he had scored a memorable century in the ‘Champions Trophy’ two years ago. What Fakhar has to look out for is that he lets the ball gets too close to him and the lack of extension of the leading arm lands him in trouble. Let’s pray that he overcomes this and is able to perform today.
There’s a lot of class in the way Babar plays as he is not only pleasing on the eye but has both the technique and the temperament to weather bowling the bowling storms. Against Babar, after the initial attempt to bowl wicket-taking balls and dismiss him, the plan could be to bowl in the good-length area and outside off with a heavily populated off-side field. Let’s hope he overcomes this and isn’t kept in the fine-leg field more and doesn’t fall prey to square leg straighter or an occasional bouncer.
Even though Muhammad Amir wasn’t a part of Pakistan’s original World Cup squad but his late inclusion has turned out to be a master stroke as he is the king of the bowling chart at the moment, with ten wickets (most scored in the CWC’19.) His stock delivery used to be the one that comes back in, but now that one is the surprise ball. The majority of his deliveries hold the line and go away from the right-hand batsman. Let’s hope that’s exactly what he does and that’s what the Indian top order will have to be careful of.
The conditions this summer in England are ideally suited for bowlers like Hasan. He’s not one of those who swings the ball in the air; rather, he looks for lateral movement off the surface. While you can account for the swing to some extent, there’s very little you can do when it moves off the deck. Let’s pray that he achieves the consistency to rattle the Indian Batsman back to the pavilion.
Weather conditions. Pitch perfection?
This World Cup has undoubtedly been plagued with rain, with both Pakistan and India having one match washed out. Talking about the overall tournament, four matches have been rained out. With just an hour to go before the highly-anticipated match between Pakistan and India, fans across the globe have their fingers crossed and praying for the weather to remain clear and rain to stay as far away as possible from the venue. According to weather reports, there are light chances of showers and moderate breeze throughout.
Reporting live (just using this phrase to make it sound more authentic, but in reality after reading different reports and viewing the news reports) about the pitch conditions, the ground is usually seen as bowler friendly, but given the condition today, this pitch will have something in it for everyone with some extra assistance for the bowlers since overcast conditions are expected for the day. So whatever the strategy both the teams have, they will have to keep it in their plans as the game can be curtailed game and the Duckworth-Lewis equation should be very much on the cards.
Taking some history into account, out of 45 ODIs played here at the Old Trafford in Manchester, only 18 went in favor of the team batting first, with the average score being around 260 runs onboard. The team that wins the toss should opt to field first, bearing in mind the adverse weather conditions- an advice to the Shaheen’s today, so that we all can chant back at Kohli and company his famous quote ‘Nai hoga tujh say chase’. But let’s hope to not go overboard because the men in blue are quiet a capable team and it’s not just any match for them but the renewal of rivalry.
One step closer, as Pakistan wins the match and calls to field first! Even though according to google, India hold a win predictability percentage of 69% and Pakistan struggling with 31%, let’s all hope they’re able to bring this about.
Stepping into the seventh match on the World cup platform, with a record history of 6-0 in favor of India, hand in hand with India’s ‘Sachin’ Sudhir and Pakistan’s ‘Chacha Cricket’ chanting “jeetey ga bhaee jeetey ga, Pakistan jeetey ga!.” Let’s all pray that this time Pakistan is successful in changing the history and able to bag their first win against India on the World cup platform. Come on guys, join those hands together for our team, they need it. We need it.