Battle Royal at Eden Gardens
19 March 2016, Nirapad News: India will play against their arch-rival Pakistan in a very crucial T20 match at Crickets Coliseum Eden Gardens tonight.
Pakistan announced its presence very loudly blowing out emerging Bangladesh by 55 runs. Favorite India was shocked and awed by New Zealand in the first match winning by 47 runs.
India is in a must win situation.
Though Pakistan has never won any match against India in an international tournament (T20 or ODI) yet it is a different day in a different contest. Pakistan has never lost to India in cricket at Kolkata. The original venue at Dharamsala required changing to Kolkata and required assurance from Chief Minister of West Bengal for Pakistan agreeing in participating. Certain political elements threatened disrupting the match. The pressure will be on the host India. Another loss may mean curtains to their world cup mission. Pakistan will still have opportunity to scrap through.
Nothing can surplus the Pakistan-India Cricket match in a world tournament in the subcontinent. It is more of a bilateral contest. The SARRC neighbors fought few wars and the bilateral relations for several incidents. Top Cricketers of both countries are admired and adored across the border. Regular contests of the traditional rivals could ease the tension according to many analysts. But absence of international cricket in Pakistan for several years now deprived Pakistanis in Pakistan to eye witness the contest. India in the recent past is reluctant to resume bilateral contest even on neutral venues.
On paper India is a superior side for their much stronger batting unit and a better balanced bowling attack. But Pakistan pace bowlers are explosive and can create panic in Indian batting line up. Eden wicket is not that fast and at the same time outfield is fast. The key will be how Indian top order handles Pakistan pace trio Mohammad Amir-Wahab Riaz and Irfan Khan. Pakistan batsmen have to give enough run cushions to their talented bowling unit for making a match of it.
It will be a contest between Rohit-Shikhar-Dhoni and Amir-Wahab-Irfan. If Pakistan can get these three cheaply, then Indian middle order will be under tremendous pressure. 20 overs have little time to recover and resurrect the innings. But the fate of the match will also depend on how the wicket behaves and how Pakistani batsmen play Indian spinners. It is a high tension game. Cricket skill alone cannot decide win and loss in such games. Countries play for pride.
India has to win and even win big. New Zealand is almost certain of moving to semi-finals after two commendable wins. One among the remaining four will join them. Pakistan with one win is in better position. Australia usually do not lose many in any form of cricket in world contest. We cannot rule out possibility of Bangladesh winning one or more of their three remaining matches.
India will be desperate for winning and desperate teams often get vulnerable. This Pakistan team has cool headed Hafiz and Shoaib Mailk who can assist in calming down. Shehzad and Umar Akmal are smart batsmen. Enigmatic Afridi alone can make a huge difference. World Cricket has seen how he can tale the away from rival team with brilliant all-round performance. Pakistan will also be desperate in erasing the poor record of losing all matches against India in contests in world tournaments.
India on the other hand knocked out Pakistan in Asia cup in Dhaka. But they were almost blown away by Amir before redoubtable Virat Kohli rescued them. Rohit and Virat will need batting well. India has the finest finisher Dhoni. These three are the keys in Indian batting. Nehra and Bumrah can trigger early breakthroughs. If that happens, Ashwin and Jadeja can run through the middle order.
India-Pakistan high voltage game generates worldwide heat and tension. Normal match analysis may not work. Any one may emerge as hero or anyone can turn into a villain. The capacity crowd will definitely have their money’s worth and rest of the world will be glued to TV coverage.
We hope better team on the day wins the South Asia’s ashes. Let us hope that resumption of cricket relation melts the ice of Indo-Pak relation which is so important in all-round development in SAARC region.
India is likely to stick to the same XI unless Mohammed Shami comes in for Ashish Nehra.
India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan 2 Rohit Sharma 3 Virat Kohli 4 Suresh Raina 5 Yuvraj Singh 6 Hardik Pandya 7 MS Dhoni (capt &wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja 9 R Ashwin 10 Ashish Nehra 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Pakistan may not also fiddle their combination either.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Sharjeel Khan 2 Ahmed Shehzad 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Umar Akmal 5 Shoaib Malik 6 Shahid Afridi (capt) 7 Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk) 8 Imad Wasim 9 Wahab Riaz 10 Mohammad Amir 11 Mohammad Irfan