India will play Pakistan in the Super 12 stage of the T20I World Cup with the match taking place at the MCG in Melbourne, on Sunday, October 23rd. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 pm local time.
It is impossible to talk about this match without mentioning the weather. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that there is a high chance of rain in the afternoon and evening of the match in the Melbourne area, and there are now fears that this could follow the example of India’s and Pakistan’s last warm-up games and become a washout.
A minimum of five overs a side is required to constitute a match, and the sell-out crowd will be hoping that they get to see some play at least.
Otherwise, with no reserve days scheduled during the group stage of the competition, the two teams will have to settle for a point apiece, not the ideal start in their quest to reach the knock-out stages as one of the two best placed teams.
Shah’s comments add petrol to the fire
The comments by Jay Shah, the secretary of the BCCI, who is also President of the Asian Cricket Council, that India will not travel to Pakistan to play in the Asia Cup next year have just added more fuel to what was already an inflammable situation.
That has led to talk that Pakistan may boycott next year’s 50 over World Cup in protest, and there are concerns about the viability of either hosting global events in the future.
There are also broader security concerns.
Last month, there was serious civil unrest in Leicester, England, after the pair met in the Asia Cup, with members of the two diasporan communities clashing.
His remarks have added to the tension ahead of the game.
Head to head record
The pair have met 12 times before in T20I cricket, and India leads their head to hear record by 9 matches to three.
Two of those meetings came in the Asia Cup in the Middle East recently. India won their group match by five wickets with two balls to spare. However, in the Super Four stage of the competition, Pakistan won by 5 wickets off the penultimate ball of the match.
Among the matches between the pair was the first ever World Cup final played in Johannesburg in 2007. India won by 5 runs to lift the trophy for the only time in their history (although they did finish runners-up in 2014).
That is the closest that Pakistan have come to winning it.
Although India failed to win the Asia Cup, despite beginning that tournament as favourites, they bounced back by beating Australia and South Africa at home in three match series.
Since arriving in Australia, they played two practice games against Western Australia winning one and losing the other, before the first of their official warm-up matches against Australia in Brisbane, which they won by six runs. Their second match against New Zealand was rained off..
Pakistan were beaten by Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup, and then hosted England for their first tour in 17 years, losing the T20I series by four matches to three.
They then took part in a tri-nation series that also featured New Zealand and Bangladesh, winning four out of their five games.
Their first warm-up match saw them renew acquaintance with England, and, again the English came out on top, winning by 6 wickets.
They began their second warm-up game against Afghanistan but that had to be abandoned halfway through because of the weather.
Both games were played in Dubai.
India have no new injury news, and are likely to field the same starting XI as played in the match against Australia, hoping that Mohammad Shami, who starred in a brief cameo with the ball in that match, is fit enough to get through his overs.
Pakistan are awaiting the results of tests on batter Shan Masood who is being kept under observation after he had to be taken to hospital after being struck on the head whilst practising for the match at the MCG.
If is deemed too risky for him to play on Sunday, then Fakhar Zaman is likely to deputise.
The weight of history is on the side of India, but that will count for little in this match, which is likely to be a typically tense and nervy affair. India, though, are currently favourites to win the World Cup for a second time and, if they are to justify that status, it is essential that they get off to a good start.
Whatever their allegiance, cricket fans will just be hoping that the game goes ahead.
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