ICC World Cup 2023: The team that absorbs pressure better will have the edge in India – Pakistan blockbuster

How the Ahmedabad pitch plays will add another dimension of suspense to how the match will unfold

By Ayaz Memon

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Rohit Sharma went on a six-hitting spree, smashing an 84-ball 131 against Afghanistan to record the most number of centuries in World Cup history. -  PTI
Rohit Sharma went on a six-hitting spree, smashing an 84-ball 131 against Afghanistan to record the most number of centuries in World Cup history. - PTI

Published: Fri 13 Oct 2023, 10:16 PM

This marquee match comes at an interesting stage of the tournament with both teams equally placed on points. India is a tad ahead on Net Run Rate, but this could well switch in Pakistan’s favour should they win on Saturday. But that’s easier said than done..

Both teams have progressed in contrasting styles. India, after a brief struggle, won their first match against Australia rather convincingly, and in the second they literally hammered Afghanistan.


On the other hand, Pakistan had anxious moments against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

They overcame the crisis, both times and perhaps more admirably against the Lankans when chasing a whopping 345. Yet, the overall performance of the team has not been convincing.


The pivotal figure in both wins was Muhammad Rizwan. He held the batting together with Saud Shakeel in the first match, and Asad Shafique in the second,

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam needs to get among the runs. - AFP
Pakistan's captain Babar Azam needs to get among the runs. - AFP

Captain and mainstay Babar Azam has hardly troubled the scorers while Imam-ul-Haq has flopped too, making the top order look terribly vulnerable.

More problematic for Pakistan is the tepid form of Shahin Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf. The dreaded pace duo has not only looked unthreatening but also gone for plenty of runs. With pitches helping spin, Shadab Khan’s lack of success adds to their worries.

Meanwhile, the Indian team has ticked all the boxes. After the early batting slump against Australia, Rohit Sharma came roaring back to smash a ferocious century, a record 7th in World Cups, against Afghanistan.

Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer, who too had failed in the first match, got runs in the second. Kohli, with two half-centuries, has looked majestic, and Rahul was in sublime touch against Australia. Add to these all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja and India’s batting becomes even mightier.

The bowling looks equally formidable. Jasprit Bumrah has touched peak form in the two matches, bowling daunting lines and lengths at a high pace, and is also bringing in clever variations. Mohammed Siraj had an off day against the Afghans, but with Mohammed Shami on the bench, India has a ready quality replacement if they need one.

Spinners add more heft to the team. Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin

have been penetrative and economical, flummoxing batsmen with skill and guile.

ALSO READ

How the pitch plays adds a dimension of suspense to how the match will unfold. Man for man, India looks way ahead. History too favours India, who have never lost to Pakistan in ODI World Cups.

But the decisive factor would be which team absorbs pressure better.

Players To Watch Out For

India: Rohit Sharma

After making a blob against Australia, a thunderous century against Afghanistan suggests he is back at his best. He’s had some problems against the left-arm swing of Shaheen Shah Afridi in the past and will have to play out the first few overs circumspectly. Unstoppable once he gets going.

Pakistan:

Babar Azam:

Unlike his Indian counterpart, the Pak skipper has had a poor tournament so far. A delightful stroke player when in form, In a crunch match like this, he will need to lead from the front, which essentially means, scoring big runs.


More news from Sports