Home News IND vs PAK, T20 World Cup 2024: High-flying India faces struggling Pakistan...

IND vs PAK, T20 World Cup 2024: High-flying India faces struggling Pakistan in box-office clash

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It is the Super Bowl on steroids. This is how a Nassau County official described the India-Pakistan Group ‘A’ clash, which will be held here on Sunday.

The marquee affair of a World Cup has come to new shores, but the hype and excitement has not dipped. Tickets for the 34,000-capacity Nassau County International Cricket Stadium are sold out, with prices now soaring high in the reseller market.

Pakistan, smarting from an upset at the hands of the USA, will have to revert to the “cornered tigers” avatar made famous by its predecessors from the 1992 ODI World Cup. It is all or nothing for Babar Azam’s men. Another loss would seriously jeopardise its progress to the Super 8 stage.

India enters in better shape, having whipped Ireland at the same venue in its opening game. Only the top-order batters were needed on the day, while the fast bowlers Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Hardik Pandya got a full and satisfying workout.

ALSO READ: “I want Kohli to score a century, but Pakistan to win,” says Virat fan ahead of IND vs PAK clash

Bumrah, the player of the match when the sides clashed in the 2023 ODI World Cup, was nearly unplayable on Wednesday. Pakistan might be forced to see out his quota of four overs and look for scoring options elsewhere.

A shoddy pitch, meanwhile, could turn out to be a dampener. The toss plays a big role, as the side batting first runs the risk of being blown apart. This grand occasion deserves more than a low-scoring one-sided affair.

Given the up-and-down nature of surfaces here, it was a surprise to see the Indian batters face the pacers at full tilt in their nets session on Friday. The worst fears nearly came true when Rohit Sharma took a blow to the finger by way of a rising delivery from left-arm throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne. Rohit grimaced in pain and took an extended break. Much to the team management’s relief, he shook it off and continued to bat.

Speedsters Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir and Haris Rauf may not have fired against the USA, but when presented with a helpful surface, can do similar damage. It is the flailing batting unit which requires immediate redressal.

India-Pakistan games have a habit of conjuring magical moments. Virat Kohli’s majestic straight six off Haris Rauf in the 2022 T20 World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar’s square cut over the point fence, which left Shoaib Akhtar shellshocked in 2003. Venkatesh Prasad sendoff to Aamer Sohail at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in 1996.

This tournament needs another iconic image to showcase cricket in the best light in the USA.

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