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Sunil Gavaskar column: India vs Pakistan is the final before the final

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Indian skipper Virat Kohli. (Agencies)
Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Indian skipper Virat Kohli. (Agencies)

Dubai - For the fans of both teams, it is a match that can give them bragging rights at their work places

By Sunil Gavaskar

Published: Sun 24 Oct 2021, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Sun 24 Oct 2021, 10:12 AM

To most, but thankfully not all of the game’s followers in the sub-continent, the clash between India and Pakistan is the only game that matters. For them, it is the final before the final unless, of course, the teams clash again at that stage. Statistics will be thrown around by supporters of both teams to show that their team has the advantage going into the game.

If they can somehow get a player’s ear, they will plead with him to do everything but not lose this game.

I can’t speak for the Pakistani players, but the Indian players, over the years, have generally just shrugged this away and gone back to listening to their favourite music and drown out the outside noise as they call it. There’s more pressure on Pakistan to beat India than the other way around. It’s always been this way. India have grown out of the desperation to show Pakistan up long back, and doing well against Pakistan is doing well against just another team. Indian players want to do well against Australia more than any other team for, over the years, the Aussies have been the team to beat for most teams in the world, and India is one of them.

That said, for the fans of both teams, it is a match that can give them bragging rights at their work places and they will be more tense than the players.

Indians two easy wins in the warm-up games against England and Australia were just the kind of booster that adds to the confidence that this team already has. MS Dhoni’s presence as a mentor has already shown results in the calm cool collected way India chased down the not so easy target and, that too, with deliveries to spare. The one area where the think tank would be exercising their minds is about a sixth bowler. Every captain likes a batsman who can roll his arm over decently so that if any of his regular bowlers is having a bad day, then the batsman can bowl a couple of overs to make up that bowler's quota. Hardik Pandya may not have bowled in the warm-ups but he will be the sixth bowler for sure.

He will also be padded up to slot in whenever Dhoni nudges the captain or coach to send him out.

Pakistan have rich experience of playing in this part of the world, so they know how the pitches generally behave here.

Their batting is heavily dependent on the skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and the experienced duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.

With their bowling being their strength, they will fancy their chances of defending even a small total they put on the board.

Whatever the result of the game, the sun will still rise on Monday morning. (TCM)

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