India vs Pakistan: Five players to watch out for
Jolted by the shock loss to New Zealand in the opening game, India will be fighting a survival battle quite early in the tournament when they take on arch foes Pakistan in what is being seen as the marquee clash of the ICC World Twenty20 here on Saturday. With Pakistan winning over Bangladesh and India suffering a disastrous defeat at the hands of New Zealand in their respective first matches, this India-Pakistan showdown seems evenly closer than ever. Both the teams have players who can be match-winners on their own. If the Men in Blue possess a strong batting line-up, then the Green Machines have their own firepower in bowling. Here are the five players to watch out for in the high-coctane clash.
Ever since the left-arm fast bowler made his return to international cricket after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing, he has been in absolutely brilliant form, and like at the recently concluded Asia Cup, he will once be a key factor on Saturday at the iconic Eden Gardens. In that match in Mirpur last month, Amir’s fiery spell reduced India to 8/3 in the third over, putting their chase in trouble until Kohli came to the rescue.
The Pakistani pace spearhead also had a good outing in his team’s first World T20 match where he took two wickets against Bangladesh and his familiarity with Eden Gardens will make him an even tougher opponent for the Indian batsmen.
India’s bowling hopes lie on their premier spinner from Tamil Nadu, as he will be looking forward to bamboozle the Pakistan batsmen with his variations. Ashwin, the intelligent off-spinner, is someone who bowls well under pressure, and will look to pick up early wickets to halt the Pakistan juggernaut.
Ashwin failed to impress in India’s first match against the Black Caps despite having conditions which suit his style of bowling. So it will be a challenge for the Twitter King to bounce back and prove his worth on the field as well. An India-Pakistan match is the ultimate platform for players to show their mettle, and Ashwin already knows that.
No adjective is enough to describe this genius from India. He is unarguably the backbone of Team India’s batting line-up, and the inability to take India home in the opener against New Zealand notwithstanding, his brilliant performances in recent series have been instrumental to the team’s success.
In the arch-rivals’ most recent meeting, at the Asia Cup three weeks ago, pacer Mohammad Amir dismissed the openers early to have India struggling in their chase of a paltry 84. Kohli saw off Amir’s venomous spell, his calm and assured 51-ball 49 taking India home. Pakistan will surely look to dismiss Kohli cheaply.
Before the tournament, Rohit Sharma had played down the Amir threat, calling the quick a ” normal bowler”. It will be interesting watch how Sharma handles Amir. However the ever-so-elegant willower’s love affair with the Eden Gardens is known to one and all. He seems to be in a completely different touch whenever he plays in this particular ground. He amassed a mammoth 264 on this ground against a hapless Sri Lankan bowling. He also made his test debut in Kolkata and scored a ton against West Indies.
Sharma also has a stupendous record on this ground in the Indian Premier League too. As the Mumbai Indians captain, he lifted the IPL trophy on this very ground. So it will be interesting to see whether Rohit comes back to form in his favourite ground against Pakistan in this all-important clash.
Despite the loss to the Black Caps in the opener, skipper MS Dhoni will not be short on belief, such has been India’s record with series victories against Australia, Sri Lanka and at the Asia Cup. India’s record against Pakistan at World Cups will also reassure the ‘captain cool’.
Dhoni knows his team inside out and with the pitch favouring the Indian spinners, he will look to get them to take control of the match. Having regained his finishing mojo in recent matches, Dhoni will be a force to be reckoned with if the match goes down to the wire. With probability looming that this will be Dhoni’s last match against Pakistan, it will really be a delight for the cricket romantics to witness what’s on Dhoni’s wishlist today.
– Jannatul Naym Pieal, Correspondent, bdcricteam.com