There is no new way of doing this. The situation is as it ever was. The details are so clear they barely qualify as details.
On one hand is India, a true Goliath, a juggernaut, the tormentor in chief and led by arguably the greatest player of this generation. They have won two of their three games and would have won the one they didn’t as well, had weather been more facilitating.
On the other hand is Pakistan, a feeble, creaking side with just one win in their last three of the World Cup and last 12 ODIs overall. The only side below them on points table are the winless Afghanistan.
Then there is the World Cup specific head-to-head history. There is no point revisiting how India have won all six. That’s been discussed to death.
So how do you analyse this scenario and how do you do it in a way so there appears a glimmer of hope for our beloved?
Chew on this:
India without Dhawan
India are likely to be without Shikhar Dhawan. He averages 102 and change against Pakistan. He is one-third of India’s powerful top order that is arguably the best in the world. Of India’s big three, Dhawan has been the biggest thorn for Pakistan. His absence is a huge boost for Pakistan.
The Amir factor
Except for that one you-know-which summer, Mohammad Amir has always been fabulous in England. Back again in the country, Amir not surprisingly is firing on all cylinders and has been the tournament’s best bowler so far, picking 10 wickets in just three matches.
This Amir is fully capable of winning games all by himself, if batters give him something to work with. He’s done it before to the same opponents before. Is a repeat on the cards?
The last meeting in England
The last time these two met, it was in Dubai, and Dhawan the missing smashed a ton. The last time these two met in England, however, Pakistan triumphed by a record margin of 180 runs. We’re sure you know about that one.
The streak grows but so does the pressure
India are on a six-match winning streak against Pakistan in World Cups. As impressive as it is, one thing about streaks is that they snap one day no matter how invincible one party seems. Complacency can kick in and the desire to repeat can dwindle.
For instance, Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open was the four-time defending champion and riding a 31-match winning streak in the tournament. He was clearly miles better than his opponent Robin Soderling yet he lost. The longer a streak goes, the more pressure it piles on the streaking side. Could that be the case today?
Underdogs Pakistan are the most dangerous Pakistan
Save for the diehards, no one expects Pakistan to buck the trend today. Everyone expects India to make it 7-0. This is not even a knockout fixture where a defeat would certainly or instantly knock Pakistan out of the tournament. An argument can be made that there is less pressure on Pakistan and more on India to keep the streak alive.
When billed huge underdogs is also when the Men in Green are most likely to come alive. Cases in point would be the Champions Trophy final and the recent win over England. These are similar circumstances.
The last word: As acknowledged above, this is a David-versus-Goliath affair. But didn’t David beat Goliath in the end?