As the players of the two arch rivals are preparing for their fourth tête-à-tête encounter, the fervour along with a smidgen of tension creeps through the innards of billions of cricket fans residing in the two neighbouring countries.
Although the players from either side keep enunciating the same platitude i.e. “It’s just another cricket match”, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that makes these games magical. ICC seem to recognise this factor pretty well as they keep milking the cash cow of this particular match by arranging them in every single tournament.
Whenever we discuss these two oppositions, a lot of factors (viz. Politics, War etc.) which are completely irrelevant to cricket itself seem to affect the game. There is no reason to think that this year it would be any different. Various newspapers would also play a significant role in that.
In the past with the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Anwar, Javed Miandad etc. Pakistan used to have the upper-hand against India despite having some really big guns. The reason was predominantly the impeccable bowling unit of Pakistan. Still in the encounters of World Cup which commenced in 1992 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, whenever these two teams met, India became victorious every single time, courtesy: Some unforgettable performance of Sachin Tendulkar. His upper cut against Shoaib Akhtar in Centurion during 2003 World Cup will remain intact in the memories of cricket lovers from either nation.
Although in case of Champion’s Trophy, the records are slightly different. There have been three skirmishes between these two in this tournament and Pakistan won two of them, once at Edgbaston in 2004 and in Johannesburg in 2009. It was in 2013, the previous edition of this tournament, when India finally turned the table and vanquished them in a match at the same venue as 2004. The match was sporadically interrupted by rain and it was decided through DL method.
Aside from the heightened nationalism enwreathing the imminent encounter, this match certainly comes with less baggage than India-Pakistan fixtures of old, mainly because Pakistan have significantly deteriorated as a team over the last few years. The last five “big matches” between these sides – 2012 World T20, 2013 Champions Trophy, 2014 World T20, World Cup 2015 and 2016 World T20 – India managed pretty comprehensive triumphs. There was a scintilla of competition in their last ICC encounter, but few are expecting a high-quality thriller. There are no chances of an anti-climax as the bar is set low.
Pakistan’s challenge is preponderantly cricketing. They’ve fallen behind Bangladesh in terms of being in touch with modern shorter formats of cricket. Pakistan’s Test cricket has coped, but limited-overs cricket is where their isolation has hurt them the most. The PSL is the youngest of the T20 leagues, and their players don’t get too many contracts in other leagues. They are not always abreast with the latest tactics, which are ephemeral in modern day cricket. They’ve managed only four victories in their last 15 encounters against India. Whereas India’s predicament lies mostly outside the ground as there has been an alleged unrest between the players and support staffs.
Despite all these analyses and prognostications, once the proponents of these two rivals would enter the picturesque stadium of Edgbaston, this match will transcend into something else than just a workaday cricket match. Whether it’s going to be an Epic at Edgbaston or not, we have to wait a few more hours to know that.
India vs Pakistan form
India LWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
India vs Pakistan Possible Teams:
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar and 11 Umesh Yadav
Pakistan 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Faheem Ashraf, 9 Mohammad Amir, 10 Wahab Riaz/Junaid Khan, 11 Hasan Ali
India vs Pakistan Pitch & Condition:
The pitches at Edgbaston are true, as seen in the match between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis, but the overhead conditions matter more. The initial forecast was for showers in the morning and afternoon, but that seems to have ameliorated. With significant breeze, fast bowlers might make things intriguing despite the pitch being conducive to batting.