India will start their Champions Trophy 2009 Campaign with the big game against arch-rivals Pakistan at Super Sports Park, Centurion. Both teams are all set to rock the spectators. India who got big blow to their lineups when Yuvraj Singh got injured but now looks all settled with Gautam Gambhir announcing himself fit for the game against Pakistan.
Gautam Gambhir has outstanding record against Pakistan both in One Day Internationals as well as Twenty20. So he will look forward to continue his batting luck going. However Yuvraj Singh absence left big hole in the Indian middle orders but his replacement Virat Kohli is in superb touch in recent times and is likely to take his place.
India who is placed in Group A with Pakistan, Australia and West Indies would love to register a win against arch-rivals to go one step close to semi-final berth. On the other hand a win here for Pakistan will almost guarantee their berth in the semifinal of Champions Trophy 2009 and only net run rate at later stage can keep them out of the semifinal contention.
Pakistan will be delighted by the return of their skipper for the game against India that will strengthen their batting department. Their bowling looks more superior than their batting as we have seen in last game against West Indies. Their batsman need to fire against India to put up a good total on the board otherwise it will be too hard for their bowlers to defend a small total on such lovely wicket at centurion.
India have history on their side though as they have never been beaten by Pakistan in an ICC event. M.S.Dhoni propensity to win tosses in key matches could also be critical in the day-night match. Centurion is the venue where India last beat Pakistan in an ICC event, the 2003 World Cup. Six years on, Pakistan is keen to take the revenge of that loss. Some of the Pakistani’s players (Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul and Younis Khan) already quoted on how badly they want to beat India but saying and doing things on the field is very different.
India will go into the game as number one ranked ODI team in ICC ranking and to beat such quality team even if they are without some of their star performer (Sehwag, Yuvraj and Zaheer) is not an easy task. They have still Sachin, Dravid, Dhoni and batsman like Gambhir in their armory. In bowling department also they have fire power the likes of Ishant Sharma and Ashish Nehra can do damage to any batting lineups.
All in all let’s hope for a cracking encounter between India and Pakistan at Centurion.
Watch out for
Gautam Gambhir v Shahid Afridi: Both players when they played last time against each other came to verbal and physical altercation which was then separated by on field umpires. Since then both players became mature enough and now they know their responsibility well.
Sachin Tendulkar v Pakistanis Bowlers: When it comes to clash between these two teams who can forget the innings which was played by Tendulkar (98 runs) at same venue against same opposition in 2003 world cup which helped India to chase down 275 run targets with ease. So it will be interesting to see what approach Tendulkar takes in another big clash against arch-rivals.
Pitch & Condition
Pitch at Super Sport Park is again will provide ample help for the spinners, team winning the toss would love to bat first and put runs on the board. Any score from 270-300 will be defendable total. Condition also looks bright and sunny at Centurion for the big game. It will be interesting to see what option captains opt after winning the toss.
Since both the injured player Gautam Gambhir and Younis Khan is fit that means both will take the field for their respective teams. With spinners playing big part at Super Sports Park, Centurion India is likely to go with two spinners and two pace bowlers (Ishant and Nehra).
Pakistan team on the other hand is likely to go with same XI that played against West Indies except their Captain will replace Misbah-ul-Haq.
Likely Playing XI for both Teams (Match is Schedule to begin at 18:00 PM India Time)
India Squad: Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rahul Dravid, M.S.Dhoni (Captain & WK), Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishara, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma.
Pakistan Squad: Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal (WK), Younis Khan (Captain.), Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
Stats & Trivia
Sachin Tendulkar (2381 runs against Pakistan) just needs 22 more runs to become the highest run scorer in India-Pakistan matches to surpass Injamam-ul-Haq.
Mohammad Amer and Umar Akmal never played any international games against India. So it will be real test for both of them in such a pressure game.
Harbhajan Singh bowling average is really well above his career average against Pakistan. He has taken nine wickets at an average of 71.77 in the 14 games.
Pakistan have beaten India only once in an ICC Events on rest occasion Indian team come out as winner against arch-rivals Pakistan. India have won in the World Cups in 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003, and also twice in the 2007 World Twenty20.