Cricket World Cup 2011

India, Pak a battle of nerves

2011-03-30 07:45
Tendulkar and Sehwag will be key if India are to win. (AFP)

Mohali - Fierce rivals India and Pakistan will have to deal with huge expectations from their cricket-crazy fans when they clash on Wednesday for a place in the World Cup final.

Anything but a win will be a shock for either set of supporters when the neighbours, who have fought three wars since their 1947 independence, meet in Mohali under a heavy security blanket.

The presence of the prime ministers of both countries in the stands will also add a political fervour to the match.

"The biggest, distinguished guests will be there to see the game, but they are here to enjoy cricket, so we have to be at our best," India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni told reporters on the eve of the match.

India will bank on their powerful batting line-up, while Pakistan will pin hopes on their bowling variety in the match which has gripped the sub-continent's imagination.

Batting mainstay Sachin Tendulkar will have another shot at glory when he walks to the crease needing one more century to complete a hundred international tons.

With the flamboyant Virender Sehwag as his partner, Tendulkar will look to wrest early control for India at the top.

Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, in-form Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni and Suresh Raina will complete a strong batting line-up, and Pakistan would need to make the new ball count.

Fitness struggle

Speedster Umar Gul and captain Shahid Afridi have been the main strike-force for Pakistan, and they might be tempted to play Shoaib Akhtar, who will retire after the World Cup, as another wicket-taking option.

Shoaib, 35, who is known for his raw pace, is struggling to get fit for the high-profile match.

Pakistan's batting, on the other hand, has failed to set the tournament alight as none of the batsmen have registered a century yet.

But despite that, the team notched up confidence-boosting victories against Sri Lanka and Australia in the group stages, and went on to maul West Indies by 10 wickets in the quarter-finals.

Afridi, the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 21, is confident the team is not solely reliant on its bowling attack.

"My team is very balanced. I have got some very good experienced players alongside the youngsters and our bowlers are doing a great job," Afridi told reporters.

Both captains have failed to shine with the bat, and would like to set that record straight in Wednesday's pot-boiler.

Past records, however, suggest that India know what it takes to tame Pakistan in the showpiece event, having defeated them on all four occasions they clashed in the World Cup.

Whoever wins the match will take on Sri Lanka in the final on Saturday in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

Head-to-head record:

Pakistan lead 69-46 (NR: 4)

In the World Cups: India lead 4-0

In the sub-continent: Pakistan lead 34-25 (NR: 3)

Results in last five head-to-head ODIs

14 Jun 2008: Pakistan won by 25 runs at Dhaka

26 Jun 2008: India won by six wickets at Karachi

2 Jul 2008: Pakistan won by eight wickets at Karachi

26 Sept 2009: Pakistan won by 54 runs at Centurion

19 Jun 2010: India won by three wickets at Dambulla


* India have won all four times they have played Pakistan in the World Cups, between 1992 and 2003

* At the Punjab Cricket Association, Mohali, Pakistan lead 2-0 having won both their games in April 1999 and Nov 2007

* Pakistan (WWWLWWW) not only topped Group A but also beat West Indies by 10 wickets in the quarter-finals

* Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi leads the wickets tally with 21 wickets at an economy rate of 3.48. Umar Gul, with 14 wickets/3.86 economy, is one of the leading pace bowlers in the tournament. Part-time spinner Mohammed Hafeez has seven wickets.

* Pakistan batting has been brittle and they do not have a player among the tournament's top 25 run scorers.

* Umar Akmal (211 runs) is their leading run getter, and more will be expected from the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq (192 runs), Kamran Akmal (188 runs), Younus Khan and Mohammed Hafeez (172 runs apiece).

* Pakistan have taken the least number of catches (23) among the semi-finalists and they will be looking to take the chances created by the bowlers, in the field and behind the stumps.

* India (WWLWWTW) stormed into the semi-finals, stopping Australia in the quarters. They were beaten by South Africa, escaped with a tie against England and less than convincing wins against Netherlands and Ireland.

* India have a very strong top and middle order with Sachin Tendulkar (379 runs), Virender Sehwag (342 runs) and four-times man-of-the-match Yuvraj Singh (341 runs) within the top 10 scorers in the tournament.

* The bowling, despite the spearhead Zaheer Khan's stellar performance (17 wickets), has been lacking bite. None of the other frontline bowlers have had much impact. Yuvraj (11 wickets) has compensated with his left-arm spin.


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