The business end of the ICC World Twenty20 starts when India takes on arch rivals Pakistan tomorrow (21st March) at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka.
Mentally India will be quite unsettled following the string of losses they have gone through over the last three to four months. India’s T20 records are not good either - as compared to Pakistan’s, overall they have played only 46 T20s out of which they have won 25 and lost 19.
On the other hand Pakistan are the most dangerous side in T20, they have made at least the semi-finals in all four previous tournaments and went on to win the trophy in 2009. Overall they have played 78 T20 International matches, 47 won and 29 lost.
Let's focus on key players, advantages, disadvantages of both the teams.
He has been the mainstay of Indian batting for quite some time now across all formats. His brilliant innings against England in the warm-up game will only boost his confidence. If Pakistan does not get him cheaply, it could spell disaster for them.
Perfect all-rounder in these conditions. He bowls tight, takes wickets, can play little cameos down the order and is a brilliant fielder who can change the course of the game with an exceptional catch or an outstanding run out. He will keep the opposition on their toes for sure.
As always, India’s batting is the key to their success and they are blessed with explosive batsmen. In sub-continent conditions, India have the confidence to chase down any total.
Better fielding side
Compared to Pakistan, the Indian team is a much better fielding side. With the likes of Jadeja, suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma in the side, India can easily save at least a couple of runs more then Pakistan.
The Indian fast bowling resources look very thin and inexperienced. If they cannot complete their quota of overs, it will add more pressure on the spinners and part-timers. Also, Indian fast bowlers have been guilty of conceding too many in death overs.
India are still undecided whether to play Rohit as an opener or as a middle-order batsman. A flying start from the openers makes the job that much easier for the other batsmen but of late the openers failed to do this, even in the warm-up games.
The world’s best spinner; even the best in the business fail to read his variations. He not only takes wickets but is also very hard to score off. More often than not, he gets the crucial wickets for the team and controls the flow of run. Pakistan’s success depends on him.
Shahid 'Boom Boom' Afridi
It was only recently when Afridi’s cameo helped Pakistan to beat India in the recently concluded Asia Cup and India are well aware of his hitting capability. With ball in his hand, he completes his overs very quickly & gives no time for the batsmen to settle down with his variations.
Pakistan has the best bunch of spinners which is an asset in these conditions. Ajmal, Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez are all match winners in their own right and are always on the lookout for wickets. They are more than capable of putting pressure even on Indian middle order.
They have bowlers like Umar Gul who can bowl yorkers, and have good variations to fox the batsmen. More often than not these death overs decide the fate of a match.
Their fielding is quite poor (Umar Akmal is the only exception) and they can leak runs. In T20 cricket fielding is of paramount importance where a single extra run conceded or any catches dropped can really turn the match.
Pakistan’s batting line-up is as settled as India’s bowling line-up, someday good but mostly cold. They have to think a lot about it specially after getting bowled out for only 71 against South Africa in the warm up game.
I will back Pakistan to win the match looking at their past track record in T20 matches but India have won three out of the five T20s they played against their arch rivals (one match ended in a tie though India went on to win that via bowl-out).
As always when these two teams meet, it is very hard to chose a clear winner but Pakistan are probably an inch ahead.
On the other hand though Pakistan have lost the finals of Asia Cup, they will in a better mindset & they are much comfortable in T20 formats which somehow suits the type of batting they have
© Cricket World 2014