Pakistan is ready for India!
Pakistani juggernauts marched into the semi-finals with a clinical win against the West Indies. It was a win so massive and so spectacular that it gave goose bumps to all those watching.
And now arrives the moment we have all been waiting for: a Pakistan India semi-final.
Who is under pressure?
On paper it seems that the pressure will be on Pakistan playing against the home team in their own backyard with a hostile crowd. But in reality, India will be under pressure to perform and secure a final spot.
Here, I would like to point out that no team hosting the World Cup has ever been able to win it. As India are one of the favourites, the weight of expectations lay squarely on their shoulders; failure against their arch-rivals will not be tolerated by the Indian public and their media will be calling for blood if Team India slips. Quite a pressure cooker situation for the home team!
Pakistan are used to playing under foreign conditions with a hostile crowd, as it has been more than two years since we played at home.
Most of our games have been in conditions suiting the opposition, sparing a handful played at neutral venues. While I agree that Pakistan’s record against India in World Cup matches is not great, do records ever play a role in Pakistan’s performances?
Who is the stronger side?
It is not just a coincidence that the two teams with the best bowling attack topped their respective Groups but Pakistan definitely has the most varied one: there are left and right arm fast bowlers, off-spinners, attacking leg spinners, left arm spinners and a medium pacer who can swing and reverse swing the ball, in the starting lineup.
The left arm spinner can be replaced by an attacking off spinner if need be as was done against the West Indies, who had a number of left handed batsmen in their team. This variation will cause problems for the Indian batting lineup.
Pakistan should give Shoaib Akhtar a go against India. Akhtar has already announced his retirement and it must be really frustrating for him to be benched during the last few matches. Every sportsman likes to retire with a bang and I say we let him vent it out against the arch-rivals.
Remember, it is the same Akhtar that silenced a roaring crowd some 12 years ago at Kolkata with two balls that ripped out the heart of the Indian batting. Against Sri Lanka he showed that he can still do it. Let him run in (or limp in if you prefer) and set the world alight once again.
India’s batting is their strong point but in the last few games the middle order, Yuvraj Singh apart has caved in after the top order had laid a good foundation. This can be a problem for India against a strong bowling attack as they found out against South Africa where they couldn’t cross even 300 when they looked set to cross 350. And the less said about India’s bowling, the better.
Pakistan’s batting has started to peek at the right moment and the two emphatic wins against Australia and West Indies were as much due to batting as bowling. The one against Australia ended the most impressive of records in World Cups, an unbeaten 34 match streak!
Pakistan is ready for India on the biggest stage of all.
Bring it on!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.