India vs Pakistan: 7-0 incoming?

It's finally the time! Another world cup clash awaits the two cricketing giants of the world in India and Pakistan. It's not a yesterday's thing, there's a huge history behind India and Pakistan. The first occasion when the two countries collided in a cricket match was way back in 1952, around the post independence juncture. India was triumphant in the very first clash but ever since, Pakistan's had an edge over its arch rival in head to head. In Tests, India has won as many as 9 games while Pakistan has won 12. In ODIs, Pakistan has a huge edge over India with 74 wins in comparison to 56. Most of these matches have gone down to the wire but in pressure situations Pakistan has dethroned India more often than not in the edge-of-the-seat thrillers. However all of this changes at the World Cup. At the biggest festival of cricket, India has outdistanced Pakistan 6 times while Pakistan's yet to open its account. It all started way back in 1992 when Pakistan was considered a much prominent side than India but currently, all of this has changed. India's a formidable side heading towards its 3rd star badge on the world cup kit, being the hot favorites to win the world cup along with England. India has defeated South Africa & Australia, two very strong sides while the match against New Zealand was a washout. Pakistan's had a varied start to their world cup campaign. It all started with a landslide defeat against West Indies, a loss with 36 overs to spare. But as they say about Pakistan "One minute down, another minute up". Pakistan again showed their character, defeating the hot favorites England by 14 runs. Pakistan faced a washout against Sri Lanka which was followed by a 41 run defeat against Australia. Pakistan might seem an inferior team to India on paper but you can never count a squad like Pakistan out. They have always shown the fighting spirit when it matters the most, when the stakes are high. The eyes of almost 1.5 billion people of the two countries with be glued to the match tomorrow. Before heading into the match, there are some individual rivalries almost every cricket fan will be enthusiastic to watch!

     Md. Amir vs Rohit Sharma 

Remember that one time when Rohit called Amir a "normal bowler" back in 2016? The banter did make headlines of various cricketing columns back then. If we analyze the statement well, Rohit should be cursing his words by now. He has faced the left arm seamer 3 times since 2016 and has gifted his wicket 2 times to the very talented bowler. By no means did Rohit meant what he said and even if did, he must have eaten back his words. Amir troubles him more often than not and just a hint of swing on the pitch means striking end is the dead end for Rohit Sharma. The last time when they faced, Rohit walked out unbeaten a with a hundred in Asia cup. But there will always be nerves for Rohit Sharma against Mohammad Amir. Amir has picked up 10 wickets till now which includes  a 5fer while Rohit Sharma has scored  runs at a monumental average of 179.It will definitely be interesting to see how this contest fares! 

Bhuvi Kumar vs Fakhar Zaman

I don't know about others but speaking on a personal front, I am impressed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar's bowling this year in LOIs. He has not been thinking too much & bowling according to his strengths & that has resulted in a good rhythm in this world cup. Sure Jasprit Bumrah is the talk of the town but Bhuvneshwar Kumar not only compliments the #1 ODI bowler but threatens to be a wickettaker himself. Against left handers, he brings in his natural swinging deliveries and it becomes tougher to read him in comparison to that of right handers. Fakhar is an attacking Batsman & he isn't going to shy away from attacking Bhuvneshwar. Will Bhuvneshwar Kumar have Fakhar Zaman's number this time around? Only time will tell!

Shoaib Malik vs MS Dhoni

In this new breed of talent, there are two lads in the squads with plenty of experience. When MS Dhoni captained India for the first time in The Inaugural T20 world cup, coincidentally, Shoaib Malik captained the Pakistani squad & the two teams met in the finals of the tournament. After 12 years, they come face to face, possibly participating in the last world cup of their monumental careers. Both have almost same role of a finisher as a batsman. While MS Dhoni will look to help India with his wicketkeeping drills, Shoaib Malik will provide his captain a part time option with the ball. While this really isn't a contest in terms of the game between bat and ball, both of them with their experience can prove to be major assets for their teams! 

 Kulcha vs Pak Middle Order

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been game changers for India in past couple of years.  They come in the middle overs and go through the middle order of the opposition which makes the job easy for Bumrah led pace attack at the back end. Babar Azam might be a top order Batsman but he will have to bat through the middle overs against Kuldeep and Chahal. Hafeez's experience and form are positive signs for Pakistan. Generally Pakistani batsmen are considered good batsmen against the spinners. Will they be able to stop Kulcha from taking wickets in the middle? That's definitely going to be a key reason behind the outcome!

Wahab Riaz vs Virat Kohli

 Say what you want, Wahab Riaz is an absolute freak of a bowler when on song. Whenever I go back to his spell from the Pakistan vs Australia World Cup match from 2015, it sends a chill down my spine. He didn't play a single match for almost 2 years before the World Cup yet found a place in the team. The critiques might have had a great time questioning his selection in the world cup & he hasn't justified his selection yet. But when a bowler is as quality as he is, you can just think of repetition of the Watson saga again. Some people might be looking forward to Amir-Kohli battle, many actually, but there's no doubt in my mind that this is going to be an interesting battle as well. The pace at which Wahab bowls is always going to be crucial. Virat loves pace and bounce but that might just prove to be his downfall as well. As far as I am concerned, this will be a thrilling contest between bat and ball!

The Question Remains!

With Dhawan out of next few games because of the thumb fracture, India's batting line up seems a bit haphazard. There are various questions to answer for both teams. KL Rahul will get to open with Rohit but who comes in at #4, Dinesh Karthik or Vijay Shankar? Will Pakistan look to play Imad Wasim or stick with Asif Ali? Will the weather again play the spoilsport? But the biggest question of them all, Is 7-0 on the cards or streak is about to end? Nobody knows the answer yet but I am pretty sure everyone's excited. The current heat between two countries will also come to play. Indians will be hoping for India to win and continue the streak. Pakistanis will be hoping for Pakistan to walk out victorious and add a new chapter to the books of history. But as a cricket fan, one can hope to see a cracker of a game!  

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