If the fever pitch created by the media were to be taken at face value, one would think that the day of judgement is nigh. India – Pakistan cricket matches have always been treated as the ultimate by the peoples of both countries and as a keen sporting rivalry such encounters are a lot of fun. There is nothing wrong with that. However, in the case of these two countries, the rivalry is basically political and the sporting rivalry is an off shoot of that. Thus it is very different from the Anglo-Australian cricketing rivalry which is restricted to the cricket field only. As Richie Benaud once said, ‘the difference is that we (the English and Australians) fight our wars on the same side’. So I think we have to keep our perspectives in mind and recognize this as a game of cricket which, coming at the opening stage of this tournament, will probably not have a huge effect on the future prospects of either side.
That said, the fact that this match is being played in Adelaide and not in the sub-continent perhaps dulls the batting superiority that India enjoys over Pakistan to a significant extent. The Indians have not had a great tour of Australia and their performance in the warm up matches has also not been anything worth dwelling on. Pakistan, on the other hand, has a very worthwhile victory over England under its belt. That said, Pakistan has a problem with its top order which has failed to perform in five of the six matches they have so far played Down Under. Opening with Nasir Jamshed appears to be a big gamble but the tour management may think that it is too late to try out a new opening pair. That may mean that either Younis Khan may have to be excluded or Pakistan will have to play with four bowlers and hope to get the fifth lot of ten overs out of Ahmed Shahzad, Haris Sohail and Younis Khan with Yasir Shah having to sit it out which, given his performance in the two warm-up games, would be most unfortunate. One option may be to open with Haris or Sohaib and let Akmal keep wickets and then play five bowlers, but it would be a very bold move to make and I doubt if the management would feel up to it. Whatever formula they come up with, the Pakistan top order has to perform better if we are to come out in front.
Also, I feel Mohammad Irfan could be a major weapon in Pakistan’s arsenal, but he has to be treated as that and given the field he deserves. With his height he can make the ball rise disconcertingly, but without close in fielders it may not amount to much. In short, perhaps we need a more attacking approach in which moves are made to make things happen, instead of sitting back and waiting for them to happen.