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T20 World Cup 2024: The big battle at the Big Apple

This is India-Pakistan served with a slice of Americana. Should be fun.
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 17:56 IST
Last Updated : 08 June 2024, 17:56 IST

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In a country that’s about as dangerous as it is beautiful, a rivalry with identical characteristics will play out on Sunday. 

India take on Pakistan at the Nassau County Intentional stadium, and this contest will feel relegated in significance after the latter’s recent loss to the United States. Still, these ancient rivals don’t rest on past performances to take it easy on the day it matters. 

While their rivalry has become more of a formality after India’s sustained success over their neighbours across formats in the last decade, the hype itself has not died out yet, and it possibly never will.

Besides the game's promoters forcing emotions down the throats of consumers with their chintzy ad campaigns, people continue to live in nostalgia, recalling moments from when an India-Pakisan contest held more chips. 

This, however, is a tad different because this part of America hasn’t had the chance to sit in the palpable tension that is a typical Indo-Pak contest. These teams have played in North America - the continent - way back in 1997 when they had the ‘Friendship’ Cup in Toronto, but this is America proper, and the locals are storming in. 

Though promoted as ‘Super Bowl on steroids’, it’s not likely that this game will go down as a classic. 

Given the nature of the four drop-in pitches at the venue, no matter which one the curator picks for the day, it will play unevenly and move a whole bunch in the air.

Historically, that would give Pakistan the edge for their pace acumen, but India’s no slouch in that department anymore. If anything, one could go so far as saying India’s bowling is far more stringent in the format. 

With Jasprit Bumrah leading the way, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj make for a spicy full-time pace trio. 

The batting unit, going by what Rohit Sharma had to say during Saturday’s pre-match presser, is going to remain the same as their XI against Ireland with Rohit and Virat Kohli at the top of the order while Rishabh Pant comes in at No.3 to tackle the early pressure on the undulated demons on the surface.

Following Pant will be Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube. The medium-pace options offered by Pandya and Dube will surely play a part once again. Now, we head into the territory of bowing all-rounders. After Dube, there’s Ravindra Jadeja followed by Axar Patel. 

India’s call to play Axar ahead of Kuldeep Yadav, in retrospect, was a prudent one given that these conditions don’t favour the spinners as much as predicted. Also, you need all the help you can get with the bat and with Axar coming in, India’s batting goes all the way to No.8. 

Even that might not be enough on these pitches, but it’s the best option India have. 

As for Pakistan, the team combination in and of itself is not the concern, their immediate issue is in overcoming their inexplicable loss against the United States from a few days ago. 

Babar Azam’s side has all the makings of a good side with a well-rounded batting unit, and plenty of pace options to dive into. It’s safe to say they were at their worst against the US, but they’re not likely going to continue to have such days. 

The fans will hope so at least because they’re a lot of them are shelling out thousands of dollars in the resale market to witness this game. Should it be one-sided, they’ll be getting no more than the atmosphere and a few beers perhaps. And the game is dictated by the one who wins the toss, that will be even more of a damper.  

So, this is India-Pakistan served with a slice of Americana. Should be fun. 

Teams (likely XI): India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh.

Pakistan: Mohammed Rizwan, Babar Azam (capt), Usman Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Azam Khan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Harris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir. 

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Published 08 June 2024, 17:56 IST

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