Irrespective of the time and the context, India-Pakistan clashes are always marque. Humongous interest and expectations is involved around each clash, and the World Cup is just another occasion for the rivalry to blossom. Yet, World Cups bring in something special to the table each time around.
The fact that, India lost badly against the Kiwis in the opener and Pakistan came through convincingly against Bangladesh, makes the clash even more interesting; given that India has always held a slight advantage against their mercurial neighbours.
Though it is pretty early to call this a do or die clash for the home team, there is no denying the fact that it is virtually one such clash, and there are a few things India need to be wary of, ahead of their encounter.
1. Shahid Afridi factor
Though Afridi grabs majority of the attention prior to any big match, he has hardly troubled India either with the bat or with the ball in the 7 previous T20 encounters between the two teams. His highest score of 14 and best bowling figures of 2/37, only justifies the fact.
But Shahid Afridi is Shahid Afridi, and hence to ignore him would be a grave mistake. His knock against Bangladesh just serves a stern reminder.
2. Mohd Amir spell
Amir hadn’t played first class cricket for 5 years until recently, but we needn’t look any further back to dig into his talent. His, 4-0-18-3 spell, against India at Dhaka is not only sufficient enough to introduce him but also good enough to trigger any alarm bells.
To play him safe in the power play wouldn’t be such a bad option for Indian openers. If he is bowling well, better give him the due respect.
3. Lack of Partnerships
In the last couple of months India has batted with authority and confidence that of any world class batting line up. But in the only couple of matches that India has lost, wickets have been rather gifted when little bit of application was all that was required.
On a green track at Pune against the Lankans, batsmen underestimated the bounce and played some careless strokes as wickets went down in a heap.
The same was repeated against the Kiwis on a turning track at Nagpur. At the fall of couple of early wickets, the middle order didn’t show enough maturity to string in useful partnerships.
India can’t afford to repeat the same mistakes.
4. Lower order batting
Hardik Pandya has swung his bat with the swagger of a West Indian and impressed many. But he is yet to prove himself as a finisher under pressure. He went out for a duck against Pakistan in a chase of 83 in the Asia cup and could only score 1 against the Kiwis, when a lot more was expected of him.
Jadeja hasn’t batted for long and when he did get to bat in the last match, he failed.
This only implies there isn’t much confidence lower down the order if the services are required again. India needs to sort out this quickly.
5. Raina’s lack of runs
Keeping aside his acrobatic efforts in the field and his canny off spin bowling, Raina has let the team down with the bat when required the most, in recent times. Be it against the Kiwis in the last match or against Pakistan in the Asia Cup or against Lanka at Pune, when India needed him to stay at the crease for a while, Raina didn’t apply himself as expected of him.
Big games bring the best out of big players, hope the same happens with Raina, for India requires him to fire, and fire sooner.