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ICC CWC: Semi Final 2: India vs Pakistan: Preview


As two entire nations come to a stand still ahead of the WC semi-final, gear up for the clash of the titans

Guys, I really hope that you all haven’t used your nail cutters for last few days as I am sure we will require our nails in tomorrows nail biting contest. The stage is set at PCA Stadium, Mohali and the teams are ready to play a high voltage contest in front of the Prime Ministers of their respective countries.  This is definitely the biggest game of this World Cup. I won’t be surprised if this match registers higher TRP ratings than the upcoming final match where India or Pakistan will take on the Sri Lankans.  Tomorrow is definitely a big day as many of the companies have already declared holiday or at least a half day and people have forgotten March ending. I guess there should be a national holiday in both India and Pakistan after all Prime Ministers of both countries are on leave and will be at the stadium tomorrow.


The war of words has already begun. But it is happening from the Pakistani camp. Captain Afridi has said they won’t allow to score Sachin Tendulkar his 100th international ton. Pakistan looks too committed to do this. I guess they won’t even hesitate to score less than 100 runs if the bat first tomorrow. Jokes apart, both the team will be under immense pressure in tomorrow’s match. Both the teams just can’t afford to lose against each other in any match, especially not in the World Cup fixtures. In World Cups, both the teams have played each other 4 times and India has won all those 4 matches. But in all the 4 matches there was a solid fighting spirit shown by the players of the both nation. The match will be played at Mohali where Pakistan has played 2 ODIs vs India and they have won both of the. So there are some statistics going there way as well.

India and Pakistan would not like to disturb the winning combination but Mohali is a different venue and the factor which has not really come in to play at other venues will come in to play here: the dew factor. Generally the Mohali wicket provides good bounce and pace compare to any other sub continent wickets. So both the teams would like to go with 3 seam bowlers. Talking about Pakistan, they have won all their matches convincingly in the tournament. They lost one match vs the Kiwis in the group stage and there was a bit of drama before they won their match vs Australia.  The Pakistan’s highest run getter of the tournament so far is Umar Akmal, who has scored 211 runs from 5 innings. Misbah, Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez have also been among the runs. Asad Shafiq looked very solid and played an important knock vs Australia. None of their batsman have scored century in this world cup so far. The bowling has looked brilliant. Shahid Afridi is the leading wicket taker of the WC so far with 21. Umar Gul is also bowling very well and getting the bowl to swing and pitch at the right areas. They have been supported well by the likes of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafees and Abdur Rehman. Abdur Razzaq has also been decent enough as a genuine all rounder.

India on the other hand have been the bating spearheads. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh have all done very well with the bat in the tournament. With the ball, Zaheer Khan has been leading the troops. He is the 2nd leading wicket taker of the WC. Ashwin and Yuvraj have impressed with their bowling as well, but Harbhajan and Munaf have failed to make a mark. Yuvraj Singh has been the best all rounder so far by being among the runs and the wickets and getting the man of the match award 4 times.  With Yuvi in such red hot form, one can count on him to deliver on the big occasion on Wednesday.

Probable playing XIs:

Pakistan:

Pakistan will play 3 pacers on the Mohali wicket. I don’t expect any change in the batting order. Since Shohaib Akhtar is fit, he might have a go as he would be retiring after this WC and will be looking forward to tear apart the arch rivals  on a big stage like WC Semi Final.

Kamran Akmal, Mohammed Hafeez, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdur Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, and Wahab Riaz/Shohaib Akhtar.


India:

Indians will be confused to make changes as always. They would also love to play with 3 fast bowlers. To make that possible I don’t think they will take a brave and wise decision to drop Harbhajan Singh but they will drop R.Ashwin who has done well in the last 2 matches that he has played. Ashish Nehra is likely to get a game as a 3rd seam bowler. After the knock that Raina played at Ahmedabad, he will retain his place in the side.

Sachin Tendulkar, Viender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir,Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel,  and Aashish Nehra.


This is what the Indian team may look like tomorrow if one goes the decisions of the team management. But according to me India should make two changes. Yusuf Pathan and Sreesanth should be included in place of Raina and Harbhajan. Yusuf Pathan is a big hitter and he can be extremely useful on a small ground like Mohali. Raina is a good batsman, he did well against Aussies and he is technically more astute. But how many technically correct batsman do you require? In a high voltage match against Pakistan where things may go down to the wire, the explosiveness of Pathan can come in handy. I also feel that Pathan is a better player of fast bowling than Raina. Sreesanth should be included because he bowls very well on the wicket which is suitable for the fast bowlers. If he controls his aggression, he brings a very good energy to the team. He is a very energetic player and we require a player like him to fire up the rest of the team on such an important day. Harbhajan has looked an ordinary bowler in the last couple of years and Ashwin at this time is a better bowler than Harbhajan, and hence should get the nod.

As far as match predictions are concerned, it’s very hard to pick a winner when these two teams meet, especially on an occasion as grand as the World Cup semi-final.  What I expect is an closely fought encounter with plenty of drama.  We’ve given the match the big build-up.  Let’s hope it lives up to it.

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