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Where: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
When: 13.30 (GMT)
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India and Pakistan collide in what shapes as one of the most intriguing early Group games in this year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
The result of this game could have massive implications for the liklihood of either team progressing through to the stages that matter when you consider then teams that are also in their Group.
West India and Australia are along side them for sure and Bangladesh could be also put in their Group, making the scenario of only two countries going ahead from a group of five a tough prospect for the loser of today’s game.
Many have questioned if India have played enough Twenty20 cricket, outside of the questionable quality of the Indian Premier League, before this tournament.
India have played only five T20Is since the last World T20. Four of them featured one set of openers, the fifth a completely new set.
And the fifth and the last came in October 2013, so India don’t have much to go by in terms of form and feel when they choose their starting XI and batting order.
Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja loom as important players for India this game and for the rest of the tournament, with MS Dhoni set to look upon them to control the run-rate in the middle eight overs.
While Pakistan can produce anything on their given day, they look to be going with a safety-first approach this tournament.
Led by Mohammad Hafeez, the world’s leading allrounder in the shorter formats, Pakistan’s 15-man squad offers a lot of flexibility while being centered around senior campaigners including surprise inclusions such as Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik. Pakistan have four allrounders, three of whom are spinners – a factor that might prove instrumental given the slow pitches.
Pakistan had a good Asia Cup, but showed flashes of their tendency to self-destruct against Afghanistan and in the opening game against Sri Lanka. Inconsistency still dogs the side. Fielding too has been a concern, and it has the potential to undo their good work in other departments.
Pakistan have featured in two finals, winning the 2009 title in England and losing the 2007 final, to India, in South Africa. They entered the semi-finals in the West Indies in 2010 and posted a mammoth total of 191 but a famous final-over assault by Michael Hussey on Ajmal cost them a place in their third straight final. They also reached the semi-finals in 2012, but hosts Sri Lanka halted their progress.