ICC Champions Trophy 2013
Preview- India v/s Pakistan
For the second time in succession, an India-Pakistan ODI game in an ICC event will be a dead rubber game. In the Asia Cup 2011, where Pakistan are defending Champions, India were already knocked out of the Cup before facing Pakistan in their final group game. They went on to win with a Kohli special, but it was too far too late. This time, the tables have been turned.
India, by far the strongest team in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 on form, are the first team to enter the semi-finals after a resounding win over West Indies at the Oval. In the process, Pakistan became the first team to be knocked out after losing both their group games against WI and South Africa.
Though one suspects that the sellout crowd at Birmingham won’t really mind the consequences or the context in which this game is played.
In the end, it is India v/s Pakistan. A blood sport.
After trouncing South Africa and spanking the Windies, the term ‘Dhawarma’ has been coined for India’s latest new opening pair- who have now put on 2 century partnerships in 2 innings (the first time since 2007 that has happened outside the subcontinent for them). Their problems are solved at the top, and there is precious little left for Raina, Dhoni or Jadeja to do with the bat in the middle. Hence, Sir- in order to justify his venerable title- decided to be more than useful with the ball. His figures of 5-36 were the best ever by an Indian bowler in a Champions trophy. His straight non-turners are now the new Warne flippers- getting him more wickets than the Pakistan spinners put together. Ashwin has found himself in the role of the second spinner suddenly, and won’t mind it- adding much more variety in the middle overs.
Everything is going right for Dhoni and co., except for their ability to bowl out a tail- which remains annoying, for the way they let teams drag their final wicket partnerships into a decent total. Here is where they miss genuine swing, but Yadav and Kumar will need to master the art of getting bowlers out now that they have mastered the art of deceiving top order batsmen. The Indians will have more of a task at hand while playing the Pakistani bowling attack, but they will relish this challenge.
Key Players- Kohli and Ashwin.
They had never won a Champions Trophy before this, and thus it will remain. With this being the last edition ever, it will be the only trophy missing from their cabinet- with their current team easily being the worst Pakistani batting attack in their history. The decision of dropping Umar Akmal and Afridi has exposed their already-fragile middle order- with only Jamshed and Misbah crossing 30 consistently. The others are there for a joy ride, assuming that their bowlers will wipe out opposition batting attacks without much fuss. While that has happened twice already, their batsmen have proven to be more inept than even Australia at the moment.
Still, there’s always an added impetus while playing India in a big tournament- and Jamshed has proven over the last year that he feasts on Indians like Saeed Anwar did once upon a time.
Key Players- Nasir Jamshed and Hafeez.
The Indians haven’t figured out how to get the left-hander out yet, and need to get him early to stop the Pakistanis from running away with the game.
On form, it has to be India. But rarely are India-Pakistan games played on form.