Tuesday, March 29, 2011

World Cup 2011 .... India vs Pakistan - 2nd Semifinal preview !!!

Billed as the mother of all contests, India take on Pakistan in a extremely high octane semifinal clash at Mohali tomorrow afternoon.
Under Afridi, Pakistan looks like a team reborn, after the various controversies have plagued them for more than a year. There is Shoiab Akhtar, who will retire from international cricket after this tournament, & despite creaking bones, is itching to end it with a glorious win; there is Younis Khan who has to control the middle order & overs for his team; there is Misbah ul Haq, who still smarts from the loss to India in the T20 World Cup finals two years ago, when he could have won for Pakistan; there is Umar & Kamran, the Akmal brothers, who are at their mercurial best one day & pedestrian the other; there is Umar Gul who has been the best pacer in the tournament till now; there is Hafeez & Razzaq who have the talent to win the game on their own, but have not really fired in the tournament till now & then there is Captain Afridi who seems to be getting better & better as a bowler, being the leading wicket taker till now, who can demolish any bowling attack with his savage batting. The team is simply laden with unbridled talent, but also very undisciplined talent. A country, which is perpetually on the verge of a civil war, poverty & terrorism, keeps on producing sportsmen oozing with mercurial talent. They have done well as an unit to reach the semifinals with conviction, having lost only to New Zealand in the group stages.

On the other hand, India has the batting order which would be the envy of any team, as any of the top seven batsmen can win a match on his own self.......Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir, Yuvi, Dhoni, Virat, Raina / Pathan...each one of them. In bowling Ashwin has been a revelation, as Zaheer seems to be peaking at the right time & Bhajji providing with solidity in the middle overs. Its the 4th & 5th bowler slot that is a problem area, though Yuvi seems to be doing quite well as a back up, & fielding has been a constant worry.
Through the tournament till now, India seem to dazzle but also limp & at times choke, as batsmen have been guilty of not finishing 50 overs quota, bowlers leaking runs, & fielding quite below par. However, the win against champions Australia in the quarterfinals, should a good boost, as India almost did nothing wrong.
The pressures of the match between Pakistan & India & the hype created by the media, is the main concern & who ever holds nerves better will come out smiling. The pitch while being a belter, seems to have something for everyone,  & a pressure cooker match like this batting first & getting 280-290 would be
While bookies are rooting for an Indian victory, there are speculations that India might lose the match to gain diplomatic brownies,  as the Prime Ministers of both the countries are going to be watching the match in the stadium !!!
Interestingly, India has never won a match in Mohali against Pakistan, while Pakistan has never won a match against India in World Cups so far.

My prediction would be 52 : 48 in favour of India. Lets all keep our fingers crossed & look forward to a glorious game of cricket tomorrow, as the two countries would have come to a virtual stop from 2.30pm.