A great match is on the card today at Centurion Park, South Africa. Currently rated as the favourite to win the ICC Champions’ Trophy, India would go all out to win this important encounter against Pakistan. Fresh from a win against a second string depleted West Indies, Pakistan would find India a hard nut to crack.
Afridi and Younus are bubbling with confidence, though both are aware that it is not easy to walk over against the mighty Indians. Afridi had already acknowledged that Yuvraj was a better player than him and that his absence in the middle would make all the difference to India-Pakistan match. He must be reminded that we have many Yuvrajs in the team like Shoni, Suresh Raina, Gambhir, Yousuf and Sachin to test Pakistan.
Dhoni and company would come out of the set back of their star player Yuvraj who was out with a finger injury. But they are not short of match winning players. With a century behind, Sachin is all set to repeat his performance. He is confident and has grown mature over the years. He has been to these kinds of situations before and a match against Pakistan is all important to him. Others are not far behind. With Ghambhir back after nursing an injury, may feel a little bit let down due to the absence of Shewag at the other end. But he would take comfort in the fact that Sachin would give him a good company.
India though may feel Ajmal factor a bit to worry but with so much experience behind would not find it difficult to play such a spinner. When they can tackle the likes of Murali and Ajanta Mendi, Ajmal and Afridi would not be a big problem for them in the middle overs.
On the batting strength, they have Dhoni, Raina, Sachin, Yousuf Pathan, and Ghambir to tackle the new ball bowlers like Aamir and Gul. Others would support the effort of the openers and middle order. It is very important that Gambhir and Sachin give a good start to the proceedings. A solid opening start is always good for the middle order to prosper. Any early set back would make the life of the middle order batsmen difficult. Here the opening duo should be careful.
In the bowling department, Ishant and company will go all out to give India a major break through early. Harbajan is always there to unsettle the batsmen. The fifth bowler would be a problem. With Yousuf Pathan performing well in the warm up match recently, would come handy in the middle overs, not to speak of his batting exploits.
Pakistan on the other hand would bank on the young guns like Umar Akmal, Afridi, Yousuf and Younus. But once they are gone, Pakistan is known to crumble in a crunch game. Though Afridi promised to turn the clock back, it is still to be seen how they perform when it matters.
All in all, by the time, this article is posted; the encounter would have started between India and Pakistan. The worrying factor being the absence of spectators in the stadium. Even a match like Srilanka-England did not attract much crowd. This shows the growing lack of interest in ODI matches. It is definitely a factor that would worry the sponsors.
But India-Pakistan match is a crowd puller. It is hoped that at Centurion, India-Pak supporters would assemble in full strength to cheer the respective teams. All in all a keen tussle is on the card. The best team which holds its nerve in such a crunch game would win.
We hope India plays to its full potential and come out with a win that would rejuvenate the otherwise dying interest in ODI. This match, the favourite being India, would bring back the crowd interest back into the ODI, which otherwise was taken over by T20. Jai Hind.