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Preview of India v Pakistan at Old Trafford : ICC CWC 2019 : Dr Nilesh D. Mehta

India v Pakistan, Old Trafford, Manchester June 16, 2019

At Southampton, India thrashed South Africa by six wickets and then defeated Australia at The Oval by 36 runs, assisted by centurion Shikhar Dhawan. However in the match against Australia, Shikhar suffered a fracture of his left thumb which will result in his absence for the next several weeks. Rishabh Pant has been flown in to England to assist the team. He did batting practice today at Old Trafford. It is certainly a tough loss especially since Shikhar looked to be in good form. Winning combinations are generally not tinkered with especially in big matches unless the weather and pitch conditions warrant those.

Weather in England:

Weather in the United Kingdom has been cloudy with incessant rains erasing previous records, especially for the month of June in certain parts of the country. Inclement weather has already affected four matches in this World Cup. I met a couple from Atlanta who had come only for one game, India v New Zealand, which was a complete wash out. Needless to say, they were quite perturbed about their whole experience to come as dedicated fans to watch the games in a World Cup. Whether the weather will continue to dominate headlines rather than players on the field remains to be seen, and, if that does happen to be the case, it could potentially have a negative impact on future plans for ardent cricket fans who travel from different countries for major ICC events, crickeconomics, vendors, merchandise, and so much more.

After the India and New Zealand washout, next match is the highly anticipated clash between India and Pakistan in Manchester. While this may not be a do or die match for either of these teams, it is a match which will give bragging rights for a World Cup match realizing that Pakistan has never won a match against India in ODI World Cup match ( India hold a 6-0 advantage) That has to be added pressure for the Pakistan players to perform for their country. Both nations have had one game washed out. Pakistan’s unpredictability was again displayed with their loss to West Indies and then subsequently rallying to beat first ranked ODI team England. And, then a loss to Australia. Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur, did address the unpredictable nature of his team and mentioned that he is working with his players to succeed in all three departments of the game – fielding, bowling, and batting. The two countries rarely play outside of major tournaments, with India winning their last two meetings in the Asia Cup in 2018, while Pakistan beat their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in England in 2017.

India Team:

Much talk has been going around with regards to the overcast conditions which potentially could assist Mohammed Shami. Kuldeep Yadav might make way for Mohammad Shami. Shikhar Dhawan’s opening spot will be taken by K.L. Rahul and either Vijay Shankar or Dinesh Karthik would be playing their first match in this World Cup. Rest of India’s team composition has been fairly straightforward. Addition of Rishabh Pant could open possibilities for the other matches as the tournament progresses.

Pakistan Team:

In their previous match against Australia in Taunton, Pakistan opted to go with pace attack and the conditions seemed appropriate. It is quite likely that they will employ similar strategy in Manchester against India. Given the overcast conditions in Manchester, no major changes in the team would be expected. Middle order batting has been a concern and in order to beat India, they have to perform better against the guiles of Yuzvendra Chahal. Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s star speedster, will be the one to watch for initial breakthroughs and a lot of responsibility rests on his shoulders for this marquee match. Having lost two games in the tournament so far, Pakistan certainly is under pressure to avoid a third defeat. It seems that in this tournament, where every team plays every other team, winning six matches would almost guarantee a spot in the final four.

Over a billion people are expected to watch this mouth-watering contest between India and Pakistan. Virat Kohli in a press conference seemed assured mentioning that the team was quite confident in their preparation for this contest. He further added, “ We are not focusing on the opposition. We can beat any side in the world.” His message to the fans : “Match enjoy karo”