Two of the strong teams of Asia, India and Pakistan – also traditional arch- rivals – are ready for yet another thrilling World Cup tie in Adelaide on Sunday. Both teams have looked at par in the recent past but three former cricketers and experts — Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Chappell and VVS Laxman have given preference to Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co. to keep India’s unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cup intact. It is interesting to note that India have beaten Pakistan in all five previous World Cup meetings — 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011.
Many of current and former Pakistan cricketers believe this particular match could be their best chance to change the course of history and get one over an out-of-sorts Indian team that is still struggling with poor form and fitness. Gavaskar told NDTV, “Both teams are not really in the best of form, so it’s possible for Pakistan to beat India. Pakistan have just lost two matches in New Zealand. They haven’t really been on top of their game even in the United Arab Emirates. So, you can say that India may start as favourites because of the past records and India were a formidable unit when they played Sri Lanka and the West Indies at home”.
He added, “I would imagine that India would start as slight favouirites, but because both the teams go into the tournament really with no great form, no great touch, it could be even stevens”.
Former India test cricketer VVS Laxman believes inconsistency and Pakistan’s inability to replace leading spinner Saeed Ajmal has given India the edge. He said, “They (Pakistan) are a dangerous team, but have been very inconsistent. I think they have still not got an answer to the loss of Saeed Ajmal. They are hugely-dependent on him and I think they don’t have a wicket-taking bowler of his capability.”
Former Australian skipper Ian Chappell has also opined that lack of potential match-winners in the current Pakistan team makes India favourites to win the highly-compatible tie. He said, “Pakistan had guys like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and Inzamam in the 1992 World Cup, who could win you matches. I am not sure that Pakistan have got some players of that calibre at the moment. Particularly in bowling, I think losing Junaid Khan is a big blow for them. So, I think that India will start favourites”.
Chappell also highlighted the fact that India have been in Australia for close to three months and will be used to the conditions. He added, “India have been playing in Australia now for a few months whereas Pakistan haven’t. Okay, they will have a couple of practice games to get used to it. But India played well at the Adelaide Test and had a chance to win right up till the last hour of the game. I think that there will be pride at stake for India. They certainly won’t want to be the first Indian team that loses to Pakistan in a World Cup. So, that’s probably enough to get them over the line”.
Whatever the result might be, one thing is for sure that the usual norms like form and momentum mean very little during the clash of India and Pakistan. The pressure of an entire nation put a lot of weight on the minds of the player in each and every clash they undergo. The stake for the World Cup is so high, that their hardcore supporter gives more weightage to a win against each other that any other thing really does not matter much. This becomes a matter of pride for the people of both the nations, after all.