World Cup 2019: India vs Pakistan is a huge battle, conditions apply
Amidst rain threat in Manchester, Virat Kohli's Indians look to extend dominance over Pakistan while Sarfaraz Ahmed's men eye maiden World Cup win over arch-rivals across 27 years
Manchester: When India line up against arch-rivals Pakistan in the most-awaited game of this World Cup at Old Trafford today, they will be up against some major concerns — unpredictable opponents, uncertain weather, lack of preparation and of course unavailability of their in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan.
India cannot do much about the weather, which has already taken a toll on four games so far. But they will surely be praying that the inclement weather does not interfere much with the match, which will be viewed by over a billion worldwide. A curtailed match due to rains can be very frustrating and derail the best of plans laid out by a team.
An even bigger concern for India is the absence of Dhawan as they have not been able to try out the rejigged combination which they were planning to do in the previous match against New Zealand. The washout at Nottingham has left them high and dry.
They will now go into the fixture hoping that the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul is as effective as the Rohit-Dhawan alliance. And of course, India are still in dilemma on the choice of No. 4 batsman between Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar. They will also ponder on an additional paceman in Mohammed Shami at the expense of spinner Kuldeep Yadav, due to overcast conditions with brief spells of showers predicted in the afternoon.
Despite the uncertainties India can take solace from the fact that history is with them. In the six matches played between the two teams in World Cups, India have won all six and have always started as favourites. However, after they were jolted by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval two years ago, many former top Pakistani cricketers feel that their team are capable of finally breaking the jinx of losing to India.
India will thus have to be wary of what Pakistan can do on their day. They just cannot rely on history alone and will have to be on top of their game. Of course the role of the top three batsmen, Rohit, Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli himself will be crucial, and they will have to ensure that there is no Champions Trophy-like collapse, otherwise India will be on the back foot right through the match.
With over-zealous fans of both the teams set to raise the tempo inside the stadium, passion is surely going to run high. In that situation the players will need to shut them out and take it as just another game. Any team that lose their nerves and focus are going to have it rough. However, at the end of the day, it's just a game being played and all that the people should look forward to is an engrossing battle in the middle.
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