On Saturday, Shahid Afridi and MS Dhoni’s men will take on each other in the most talked about encounter of the World T20 – the marquee clash at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Both teams started the World T20 campaign on a converse note as expected: India lost their first match against New Zealand, while Pakistan beat Bangladesh comprehensively in their campaign opener.
The Pakistan-India match made headlines before it was even played when Pakistan requested the International Cricket Council to change the venue from Dharamsala after a three-member delegation reported that it was not safe for the visiting team. After moving to Kolkata, the threats by Anti-Terrorist Front of India and ex-servicemen to dig the pitch also caused uproar in the media.
Here are a few facts about the Pakistan-India clashes in the shortest format and in the World event.
1. First-mover advantage
Pakistan and India have never played a T20I in Eden Gardens. This will be the first time the two Asian giants will face-off in the shortest format at this venue and keeping in view Pakistan’s winning performance in the warm-up against Sri Lanka and during the 55-run victory against Mashrafe Mortaza’s team, the men in green will be the favourites.
2. Pakistan’s ODI dominance
Pakistan will already have an upper-hand when it comes to victories as they have a four-out-of-four record against India at the Eden Gardens. The Test record is equal as both teams have won once out of seven contests. The rest of the matches were drawn.
3. India’s T20I record
India and Pakistan have played only seven T20I against each other before Saturday’s match. India has convincingly dominated Pakistan in those matches with only one defeat to their name. Call it a hoodoo on the Pakistan team, but they always crash while facing the men in blue.
4. The Dhoni factor
Under MS Dhoni’s leadership, India have won the World Cup, the World T20 and the ICC Champions Trophy — the reason that the Indian board never brought him down from the helm since his appointment. During the seven encounters against Pakistan, Dhoni has been one common denominator in all the matches. Meanwhile, Pakistan saw three men leading the charge against the Indian team – Muhammad Hafeez in four, Shoaib Malik in two and Shahid Afridi once.
5. India’s psychological advantage in World events
If history repeats itself, the ‘mauka mauka’ man will once again see Pakistan being defeated by India at the World T20. As history proclaims, Pakistan have never beaten India at a world event; in the case under consideration, Pakistan have lost four-out-of-four times against India at the World T20 – twice in 2007 and one time apiece in 2012 and 2014. Both teams didn’t face each other during the 2009 (where Pakistan won) and 2010 World T20 campaigns.
6. This time pressure is on India
Pakistan have opened their campaign with a dominating victory against Bangladesh while India were buried in their spinning haven by New Zealand.
A loss at the hands of Pakistan will mean that India will be well out of the World T20 semi-finals contention. Meanwhile, Pakistan will still have a chance to find a place among the top two Group 1 spots if they could slay Australia and New Zealand in their remaining Super 10s matches.
7. India will have to pray to the weather gods
The forecast for Saturday’s match predicts isolated thunderstorms at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. According to weather.com, there is a 30% chance of rain with 84% humidity in the air during the latter half of the day – the time when the match will start at 7pm PST.
In case of an abandoned match due to rain, India and Pakistan will share one point each and that may well cause the departure of MS Dhoni’s men from the World T20.
India will be praying that mother nature doesn’t have the last laugh in the much-anticipated match.
By Abdul Majid Published in The Express Tribune