T20 World Cup blockbuster awaits as India, Pakistan face off

The T20 World Cup will be set alight on Sunday with the big-ticket clash between India and Pakistan; both teams would be gunning to get their campaign off to an ideal start.

Virat Kohli playing a shot during the World Cup 2019 contest between India and Pakistan, the last time the two teams met. - AP

The T20 World Cup will be set alight when India and Pakistan meet in a big-ticket clash on Sunday.

There’s no doubt that the contest between the sub-continental giants will attract global interest even beyond the cricket fraternity. But both the teams, with face-offs having become as rare as a hailstorm in the Emirates, have been trying their best to play down the pressure-cooker scenario associated with the game.

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Understandably so. More than earning the brownie points of scoring a win in the match-that-matters-the-most for their respective fans, India and Pakistan would be gunning to get their World Cup campaign off to an ideal start.

Moreover, with both the teams having hardly faced each other in the shortest format of the game - eight matches in 14 years, including the two famous matches in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 - there isn’t too much of personal rivalry on the field.

Chakravarthy the x-factor

In this respect, India will be hoping that Varun Chakravarthy, the mystery spinner touted to be India’s X-factor, will spin his web around the Pakistan batters, none of whom having faced him earlier.

Pakistan, on the other hand, will be looking forward to captain Babar Azam to guide its relatively inexperienced unit to glory. The fact that he will have the guidance of old war-horses Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez in the team - both of them feature in the 12 announced on Saturday - will certainly help it soak in the big-match pressure.

Both Malik and Hafeez were a part of the inaugural T20 edition 14 Septembers ago. For India, it’s only vice-captain Rohit Sharma who featured in that memorable edition in South Africa. Having excelled as a rookie in 2007, Rohit will be hoping for the likes of Rishabh Pant and Chakravarthy to deliver under pressure.

But more than the rookies, India will be hoping to get the balance right of its team. To resolve the muddle of a back-up bowler remains the key for India to start its crusade to regain the T20 World Cup after a prolonged gap on a winning note.

Playing Pakistan in its tournament-opener would certainly invoke the memories of the 2007 World Cup among fans. Thanks to a washout against Scotland, the game that finished with a bowl-out versus Pakistan was India’s first-ever match in a T20 World Cup. The bowl-outs are a history in cricket but India will be hoping for the same result on Sunday.


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