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Pakistan eye to break India’s jinx in World Cups

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Cricket’s greatest rivalry is all set to ignite the excitement of the cricket fans to the zenith as fierce rivals Pakistan and India come face to face for the third time this year at the ICC World Cup 2023.

The heated rivalry attracts millions of cricket fans across the globe but only a small portion get to witness the high-octane clash at the stadiums.

But things will be different and bigger this time around as the world’s biggest cricket stadium, Narendra Modi Stadium, which can accommodate as many as 132,000 spectators, will be hosting the anticipated match.

Although Pakistan and India squared off twice in Asia Cup 2023 last month, where the group stage match was abandoned due to rain, while India triumphed in the Super 4 stage match courtesy of Virat Kohli and KL Rahul’s dominant centuries.

Nevertheless, the anticipation level for this match is at the highest level, considering the fact that Pakistan and India are set to come face to face on Indian soil after seven years.

Pakistan team last toured India in 2016, for the ICC World T20 and played against India at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, where Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten half-century to lead India to a six-wicket win.

The last time these two teams faced each other in an ODI in India was ten years ago, during the 2013 tour of Pakistan for a three-match ODI series, where Pakistan came out victorious.

Overall, Pakistan and India have faced each other in 134 ODI matches. Pakistan have come out victorious on 73 occasions, whereas India triumphed in 56 matches.

However, barring the famous Champions Trophy final victory in 2017 under the inspired leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan have failed in five of their last seven ODI games against India, while one game was washed out.

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Notably, Pakistan never defeated India in the seven ICC World Cup matches they have played. The most recent encounter between the arch-rivals took place during the ICC World Cup 2019 in England.

The current Indian captain, Rohit Sharma, led the Men in Blue to a resounding victory over Pakistan, with a blistering 140-run innings off 113 balls.

India’s undefeated streak has made this rivalry even more intriguing however; captains of both teams dismissed the idea of an ongoing streak as part of their strategies.

“Past is past, I try to focus on present. Records are meant to be broken,” said Babar Azam.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma also echoes the same sentiments that the streak does not matter.

“I am not a person who looks at all such stats (7-0). We only focus on how can we play good cricket,” said Sharma.

Both teams kicked off their ICC World Cup campaign with two victories in their first two games gaining momentum going into the high-octane match.

However, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is going through a rough patch and has not been able to reach the 30-run mark in his last five ODI innings since his 151 against Nepal in the Asia Cup 2023.

Moreover, Babar Azam’s weakness against wrist spinners is also alarming, with Indian left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav having an excellent record against the Pakistani captain.

Babar Azam faced Kuldeep Yadav in three ODI games and managed to score only 18 runs, while Kuldeep got him out twice. Notably, Kuldeep Yadav returned with figures of 5-25 in the last match between the two neighbours.

Records also suggest Babar Azam’s struggles against India in ODI cricket, scoring only 168 runs in seven innings with a dismal average of 28.

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On the other hand, Virat Kohli has a tremendous record against Pakistan in ODI cricket. He has accumulated 662 runs at an average of 55.16 with three centuries In 15 ODI matches, including 94-ball 122 in the Asia Cup Super Four match last month.

Nonetheless, it is expected to be a great competition between Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, two of the greatest batters of modern times. Despite his bad form, Babar Azam is currently sitting at the top of the ODI batting ranking, the position which was once held by Virat Kohli.

Pakistan’s wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Rizwan has been in good form, scoring 199 runs in two ICC World Cup 2023 games, including the match-winning century against Sri Lanka to successfully chase the highest-ever total in a World Cup game.

Rizwan was supported by Abdullah Shafique, who scored his maiden ODI hundred in his fifth ODI appearance. It would be an interesting battle between Pakistani batters and Indian bowling attack.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani bowling attack appears somewhat muted compared to the fiery display witnessed during the group-stage clash against India in the Asia Cup. Naseem Shah was ruled out of the World Cup, while Shaheen Afridi is struggling to create the magic with the new ball.

Hasan Ali, who replaced Naseem Shah in the World Cup squad, is currently their best wicket-taker in the World Cup with six wickets, equalled with India’s Jasprit Bumrah.

While Bumrah is on song, his new-ball partner Mohammed Siraj has struggled to recreate the devastation he showed during his six-wicket spell against Sri Lanka in Asia Cup final.
He managed to pick only one wicket in two World Cup games so far.

Indian spin attack is arguably the best in the world, with Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin at the helm. Considering Pakistani batters’ struggle against spin bowlers, it will be an interesting contest.

Both teams have seen some changes since their last face-off in the Asia Cup just a month ago. However, one thing is certain – the upcoming match between India and Pakistan is bound to deliver high-intensity action on the field.

Pakistan squad for ICC World Cup 2023

Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, M Wasim Jnr, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha.

India’s Squad for ICC World Cup 2023

Rohit Sharma (capt), Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.

READ: ICC World Cup 2023: PAK vs IND clash to kick off with star-studded ceremony

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