Indo-Pak battle today

September 30, 2012

The fixity of purpose is often not good enough when India and Pakistan lock horns in any format of the game because it requires more than that. There will likely be no exception to that general rule when the two perennial rivals meet in a crucial Super Eights match of the ICC World Twenty20 at the R Premadasa Cricket Stadium today. The relative skills and strengths at times takes a back seat in a match of this magnitude, which is why the word ‘pressure’ has taken centre-stage in discussions before this vital clash that will start from 8pm Bangladesh Standard Time. Talk may have revolved around this being a battle between a formidable batting side and a fearsome bowling attack but no, the big question concerned who among the two subcontinent giants would be better able to perform under pressure.
The fact that a defeat on Sunday night will almost certainly eliminate India, who are burdened with a poor net run rate of -2.506 after conceding defeat to Australia with 5.1 overs to spare in their first match, added more spice to the battle.
This particular battle fires up the players like no other but both captains — MS Dhoni and Mohammad Hafeez were conservative while talking at the pre-match press conferences. Instead, they wanted to keep faith on their boys ahead of the marquee clash.
Top favourites Pakistan have a slight edge today as they not only go into the match on a winning streak but have also defeated their traditional rivals in a warm-up encounter before the competition at the same venue. There is also the small matter of India — the 2007 champions — not winning any Super Eights matches in the last two versions of the T20 mega event.
On the other hand, Dhoni’s men can draw inspiration from the fact that Pakistan are yet to beat them in an ICC multinational tournament. But as everyone knows, records are there to be broken and history will count for nothing when the two sides take the field.
The India skipper wanted only one thing from his side — that they express themselves during the crucial encounter against Pakistan.
“The team has got the potential to win the remaining two matches and enter the semifinal but we will have to implement it on the field. But what is also important is that we go out and express ourselves because we may not lose badly, you may not have a worse game than what happened against Australia,” hoped Dhoni.
“Let’s play some big shots and go in with a lot of confidence. Whatever the result may be, let’s not fear the result. You know it’s a very different format and you cannot do a lot of planning, you can’t say you will do this, do that. Just go out, you have the talent, you have to express yourself,” he added.
The Indian skipper was hardly bothered with the word ‘pressure’.
“We are always at the top of the pressure chain. The most pressure has always been there on us because of the expectation levels back home. I don’t think the pressure will go beyond that limit because it’s always been there, so it doesn’t really matter to us. What’s important is to enjoy the game and not think about the result too much,” said a confident Dhoni, who might ring in changes to team combination by dropping one spinner to make way for Virender Sehwag.
On the other hand his counterpart Hafeez was happy with the way his boys have responded in the competition so far.
“There is no pressure. I’m happy because our effort on the field was great so far and we have shown our character in different situations. The win against India in the warm-up match is a morale-booster for us and boys are confident of continuing their good show.
“We are yet to set our strategy but definitely there will be a different strategy for India as they have a strong batting line-up,” he added.

-With The Daily Star input

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