March 29, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 - Semi Finals 2: India Vs Pakistan

Funny that Dhoni needs a leggie who can pick wickets and Afridi needs a wk who can hold on to the ball. Eh?

   The tournament has had its highs, lows, Canada et al. But, cricket fantasy is set to come true in Mohali during the second semi-final of the ICC World Cup with the mother, father, Godzilla of all battles!! Arch rivals India-Pakistan to battle it out for pride, glory, world peace and tumbling stock markets. This is what the whole world umm.. Shiv Sena ummm... Hon. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ummm... cricket crazy fans have been expecting. Its an early Christmas for the sponsors, their prayers have come true. This match is "HUGE", for most people across the borders of the two countries winning this match means more than winning the World Cup. No wonder if the productivity dips by a few levels during the match, the players will have to pay back in blood and tears.

   They blew the Windies out the competition in the QF. Afridi has been their strike bowler. He has done nothing wrong with the ball , which has been compensated by doing nothing right with the bat. Gul has been top notch, both with the new ball as well as the old one. Pakistan's batting has been a bit wobbly with the reliability of Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi. Umar "Leprechaun" Akmal has been their 'go-to' man. Razzaq has gone un-noticed with the bat/ball this time, Afridi has used him only as a stock bowler. Afridi will be tempted to play Akthar in place of Razzaq to hurt the Indians. Its good to see Akthar tone down his bowling as well as his attitude and play with the team rather than playing against them which he is always used to. He would like to peak in against India like any other guy in the team . Their fielding has been mediocre, thanks to the one man army behind the wickets.

   India started off their campaign as favorites and  then they were the punching bag for most critics. But, in the QF they knocked out the defending champions Australia, ending their 12 year old reign over the World Cup. With the heroic win against Aussies, hopes of 1billion + hearts stay afloat. India's bowling was their main weakness, no one except for Zaheer standing up to the occasion. Now with the entry of Ashwin, it seems to have got a combination going for them. Though, MSD would be tempted to play Nehra/Sree in Mohali, he would  play the same winning combination against the Stanis. After all, his dil-logical  decisions have been successful. Indian batting has looked good, except in the batting powerplay where they seem to get a "brain freeze". Those maddening 5 overs have cost them a lot. Again Raina's entry as the finisher has helped them stabilize. Indian fielding, though it was looking rough in the group stages improved exponentially against the Aussies. Or as MSD says, they could do no better.


Sachin                Hafeez
Sehwag              K Akmal
Gambhir             Shafiq
Kohli                  Younis
Yuvraj                Misbah
Dhoni                 U Akmal
Raina                 Afridi
Harbhajan          Gul
Zaheer               Riaz
Ashwin               Ajmal
Munaf                Akhtar
Nehra*(12th)      Razzaq* (12th)

  Man to man the teams look well balanced. Although, the tons and tons of runs and experience of the Indian top-order and the depth and variety in Pakistani bowling will be the key battle to win the war.

Key Encounters:
  • Sachin-Viru Vs Akthar-Gul
    Mouth watering clash on the cards, if the Pakistani think tank decide to bring Shoaib out of the wilderness. He may have announced his retirement plans but, Sachin n Sehwag will be eager to make him pay!
  • Gambhir Vs Afridi 
   Gambhir and Afridi have history. Afridi has picked 21 victims already. Gambhir has been among the runs. These two on the field would spark emotions as easy as butter melting on a hot pan.
  • Zaheer-Ashwin Vs Pakistan Openers
   Zaheer has been the strike bowler whenever MSD needs a wicket. Ashwin has been the answer to India's bowling woes. Akmal, Hafeez know to play in only one gear, attack! It will be exciting to see this mini-battle among the several high voltage conflicts on the centre stage.
  • Yuvraj Vs Umar
   Umar Akmal's green sunscreen should come handy when he faces UV's rays!

Not so much Trivia
-Yuvraj has won 4 m.o.m awards so far in the world cup.
-Pakistan have never beaten India in world cup competitions.
-India have never beaten Pakistan at Mohali.
-India has never crossed the Semis in world cups held in India (sub-continent).
-SRT is on 99 international centuries & yet to win a world cup (in case you missed. haha!).

   Both India and Pakistan will be on a high beating some good teams and reaching the WC semis. It's "war time" for the 22 players, do-or-die would never have sound more apt. Its not just a "game" for the two countries,  its a question of superiority, pride, everlasting glory and endorsement deals. Well of course!