T20 World Cup, IND vs PAK Preview: India, Pakistan Renew Rivalry In Dubai

India and Pakistan face off in a blockbuster clash in the Super 12 stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday. This will be the two arch-rivals’ opening game of the tournament and both sides will be looking for the best start possible by securing victory in the match. Virat Kohli-led India warmed up for the tournament with victories over England and Australia while Pakistan beat defending champions West Indies in their first warm-up game before losing to South Africa in their second. The game will be the sixth clash between the two teams in the T20 World Cup.

India are yet to lose against Pakistan in a World Cup meeting, having beaten the latter seven out of seven times in the ODI World Cup and five times out of five in previous editions of this competition.

One of India’s five wins over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup came in a bowl-out in the inaugural 2007 edition, when the two sides went on to meet in the final as well, which India won by five runs.

The pressure will be on Kohli’s India as they seek to maintain their perfect World Cup record against Pakistan. Kohli, for whom this will be the last assignment as captain of the country’s T20I side, has already warned his teammates of the quality of the opposition.

“Pakistan are strong, you have to play your best cricket against them every time. They have players who are game-changers. We definitely have to bring our A game against Pakistan,” Kohli said in the pre-match virtual press conference on Friday.

Possessing a strong batting line-up that includes the likes of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, among others, India’s bowling department also features a few big names in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and others.

The only major concern is whether all-rounder Hardik, who hasn’t bowled in the last few months, would be ready to resume bowling duties on Sunday. Kohli tried to allay fears over the same in Friday’s press conference.

“I feel Hardik presently is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl two overs for us. Till the time he starts bowling, we have created a few options for ourselves. What he offers at number 6 as a batter, we can’t create something like that overnight,” said the Indian captain.

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Pakistan, on the other hand, boast of a formidable team themselves. Skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and others form a strong batting line-up while their fearsome bowling unit consists of Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, among others.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Pakistan captain Azam asked his side to forget the past. “To be honest, what has passed is beyond us,” he said. “We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result. Records are meant to be broken,” he added.

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