It will be a clash of giants: India versus Pakistan in a World Cup match. You can’t get a better sporting spectacle than this. On October 24, almost 1.5 billion people from India and Pakistan will be glued to their TV screens to find out the winner of the most anticipated cricket match in recent years.
The hype around that match is already building up. You can see the top players from yesteryears of both cricketing nations giving their word of advice or caution to players and selectors.
Most recent is the word from Pakistani legend Inzamam-ul-Haq, who advised Pakistan to apply pressure from the start.
Speaking to Geo News, he said: “The team combination for the contest against India is crucial for Pakistan’s success.”
In the same vein, T20 specialist bowler Sohail Tanvir pointed out that “the role of Hassan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi will be critical during the high-profile match between India and Pakistan”.
The Pakistan team is currently playing some good cricket and Babar Azam and the rest of the boys are in fine shape. But from a statistical point of view, things are not in favour of Pakistan against India — at least in the T20 format.
Pakistan has won only one out of eight clashes from their neighbours in T20 overall. This is a lot worse than Pakistan’s overall record of 106 wins in 177 matches, with just 63 losses.
In this format, Shoaib Malik is our best batter against India. He has played eight matches and scored 164 runs with a strike rate of 103 and average of 27 runs per inning.
Next is Mohammad Hafeez with 156 runs. He has an average of 26 and a strike rate of 118 so far against India. From the current Pakistani squad, we have Sarfaraz Ahmed next, with 33 runs. He has a strike rate of 110 in the two games he has played.
Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, and Mohammad Amir are the most successful Pakistani bowlers against India in this format with 11, 5, and 4 wickets respectively.
From the Indian perspective, captain Virat Kohli has the best record against Pakistan in the T20 format. He has played six matches, scored 254 runs, and maintains an average of 84 runs with a strike rate of 118.
Rohit Sharma has made 70 runs in seven matches with an average of 17 and a strike rate of 129. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has 5, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya 4 apiece, Ravichandran Ashwin 3, and Jasprit Bumrah has 2 wickets against Pakistan.
In the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan has played 36 matches with 21 wins. They are a very experienced T20 side as far as knowing the playing conditions there. But with the recent Indian Premier League happening in UAE, most of the Indian players are also well versed with the region’s playing conditions.
Pakistan is a very strong cricket side but will start as second best against India. If they can capitalise on good momentum and keep Indian batting under pressure, there is a strong chance of Pakistan making a good start in this prestigious tournament.
Khurram Siddiqi is a senior media professional and member of staff. He writes about sports and politics. He tweets @Siddiqi__