While rain threatens to play spoilsport, it is unlikely to be a complete washout according to people who understand weather conditions here.
Thousands of fans from both countries have crisscrossed the globe to see their team in action and trust rival captains Rohit Sharma and. Babar Azam to tell you it’s another ‘game’ for them, but all the 22 players and the reserves know that it’s ‘The Game’.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, under whom India never lost to Pakistan in ICC events, would repeat himself again and again that there is no place for the word ‘revenge’ in a cricket field.
But a lot has changed in the past year since Shaheen Shah Afridi gave Pakistan’s team its first win in a World Cup in different formats in an intimidating opening spell.
It was not just a match won or a broken voodoo, but that 3/31 by Shaheen was also successful in bruising the egos of some of the greatest batting stalwarts in the modern cricket world.
While Rohit, Virat Kohli or KL Rahul are not the ones to easily forget last year’s humiliation in Dubai, the fact remains that India as a team has looked a little undercooked of late.
And at least on Sunday, the ‘Men In Blue’ would not start as favorites in the ‘mother of all clashes’.
BCCI’s statement that India will not travel to Pakistan to play the Asia Cup and the subsequent PCB threat to pull out of 50 over World Cup in India only made the atmosphere more politically charged and angry.
India will not mind going into a game as underdogs and it will be Pakistan who will have to live up to the high expectations.
Combination is still a concern for India
This has been a trend with the Indian team — which lacks a fixed combination — for quite some time now. In 2019, they did not have a number four, even after two years leading up to the event.
And now, a year after the last T20 World Cup, India may have to drop a specialist left-hander (Rishabh Pant) from the top five to accommodate an extra bowler.
The sameness in the batting line-up is a bit worrying as it will have Shaheen, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf building one line in absence of Pant, who has also been a tad out of form.
How India’s top three handle Shaheen in the Powerplay will determine how the match will play out.
One man Shaheen might be able to take on is India’s current No.1 batsman Suryakumar Yadav, who is someone who never changes his game regardless of the conditions or situations.
But in wet conditions, Rohit will pray that lady luck will shine on him and that he will win the toss and may prefer to chase when his bowling line-up looks a little scratchy.
While India have three spinners in the series, in the end only one could play if the continuous rain and a sharp drop in temperature make the conditions seam-friendly.
In that case, an out-of-form Harshal Patel, with decent batting skills, might be back in the scheme of things.
But with three left-handers – Shan Masood/Fakhar Zaman, Mohammed Nawaz and Khushdil Shah, a bowler who can dismiss it is always going to be in the mix. Hence, Ravichandran Ashwin can never be completely out of comparison.
Last time the strategy of promoting Nawaz as a pinch hitter in Asia Cup Super 4 literally stalled India but they should have done better homework this time to not be caught off guard.
On Sunday, the only factor that puts Pakistan slightly ahead is Shaheen, who is slowly getting close to his best.
At the MCG after 37 years
It is after almost 37-and-a-half years that an India vs Pakistan clash has been scheduled at the MCG. First since the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket Final in 1985.
It was Sunil GavaskarIn the last match as India’s captain and at home in India, fans watched as Ravi Shastri took a shiny Audi for a spin around MCG.
Just 1⃣ sleep away! We are ready for Game 1, are you❓#TeamIndia | #T20WorldCup https://t.co/rMO1sa13Jj
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1666421908000
There were barely 30,000 fans that day and an offensive poster in the stands by the locals on that day read “World Cup final: Tram Conductors vs Bus Drivers,” basically degrading the social status of the two South Asian neighbors .
No one would have foreseen at that time that an India-Pakistan match would become a major commercial vehicle at multi-team events. This is not just another match, this is ‘The Match’.
#TeamIndia begins their nets session ahead of #INDvPAK tomorrow at #T20WorldCup https://t.co/at7JZWPS03
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1666414313000
In the: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Yuzvendra ChahalAxar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel and Deepak Hooda
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammed Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Mohammed Nawaz, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammed Wasim, Shadab KhanMohammed Hasnain