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Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup: Can India square the series against Pakistan in Kolkata on Thursday?

Can the 'hitman' help India to square series against Pakistan?
©Reuters
 

In the first match of the Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup series, Pakistan won the match by the narrowest of margins – just 5 runs - with veteran Shoaib Malik hitting a 22-ball 64 (including 6 sixes) and former captain Sarfaraz Ahmad making an unbeaten 53, the main run getters for the home side in their huge total of 169/5 in 10 overs.

Chasing a mammoth score of 170 to win, India fell just 5 runs short of victory, with Shreyas Iyer (who scored a 21-ball 51) and Virat Kohli (62). Had he not been dismissed by Wahab Riaz for a 20-ball 62, he might have taken India home. But, his dismissal at a crunch time cost India the match.

The well-fought fixture at the National Stadium in Karachi came like a breath of fresh air after so many days of drought as far as international cricket is concerned. The joy was clearly visible on the faces of the fans in the stands in Karachi, in our virtual world, especially after the home team was successful in pipping India to the post.

 

Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup - Match 2 Preview

The caravan now moves to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata where Pakistan will try their best to win the series. For India, the chances of a series victory have now gone, but they would do well to draw level.

The old surface in Eden Gardens was a heaven for spinners but ever since the Cricket Association of Bengal re-laid the square, it offers more bounce and provides for a better contest between the bat and the ball.

There is a lot in it for the pace bowlers if they are willing to bend their back. Likewise, for batsmen ready to take on the challenge and apply themselves, runs are on offer.

In the seven T20 International matches that Kolkata has hosted, the team batting first has won just two times as opposed to the team bowling first. This gives a clear indication of what the winning captain will do at the toss.

While the highest total recorded at the venue was by Pakistan against Bangladesh of 201, the ground has not been a too high scoring one in T20 Internationals, with the team batting first averaging 143 while the side batting second averaging 126. So, unlike the opening fixture, a better balance between bat and ball can be expected in this game.

Both sides are not likely to make too many changes in their playing XI. But, Pakistan can consider bringing in Asif Ali for Iftikhar Ahmed, who was dismissed for a golden duck as he failed to read Kuldeep Yadav off the hand.

All the Indian bowlers proved expensive but Mohammed Shami particularly looked out of sorts as he conceded 35 runs of his two overs without picking up a wicket. India can go for Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Shami's place in Kolkata, where the new surface will be conducive to his style of bowling.

 

Do tune in for the thriller on 4th June as live action begins here from 11:00 a.m. GMT

For our Live InPlay coverage of match click here

 

Here are the likely XIs for the 2nd Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup match:

Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir

India - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (WK), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

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