ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019
As Pakistan attempt to create history, India aim to be ‘in a good head space’ © AFP
India’s pacers haven’t had a chance to have a proper practice session since their game against Australia, rain played spoilsport throughout their time in Nottingham. They did get a chance to bowl on the main ground for a while a day ahead of the game. “They’re in a good head space,” is what Kohli had to say ahead of their clash against Pakistan. It is something that he insists upon for other questions as well, particularly when more than one questions are directed at how he prepares for an opposition like Pakistan. It pushed him to a nearly philosophical tone at one point. “I think the best way to approach something like this, if one focuses too much on what’s going on the outside, it’s to understand that the game starts tomorrow at a certain time and it finishes at a certain time, so it’s not going to last a lifetime for you, whether you do well or you don’t,” he said.
On the other side is Mickey Arthur who wants his players to enjoy it. “I saw some stats, you know, which said I think the soccer World Cup final attracted 1.6 billion viewers. Tomorrow we’re likely to get 1.5 billion. It doesn’t get bigger than that. It doesn’t get more exciting. I’m telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow. Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible tomorrow, you’ll be remembered forever,” he’s said and added, “You’re the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history?”
Arthur also wants his pacers, particularly Mohammad Amir (the leading wicket-taker so far), to rattle India’s top order. That could create a little havoc, he believes. It’s an observation that will probably be agreed with even in the opposition’s dressing room. It is exactly what happened when these two teams last met in an ICC tournament, the Champions Trophy final of 2017, a pivotal game for the players and teams in many ways.
The key players from that game have all undergone many changes. Amir and Jasprit Bumrah (after that no-ball) have traversed diversely different paths in the last two years, one is finally delivering on the promise this World Cup and the other comes with the reputation of being amongst the world’s best. Fakhar Zaman and Hardik Pandya, have had not too dissimilar trajectories as the other pair, but both have the reputation of being dangerous white-ball batsmen. That final also played a key part in changing India’s spin make-up but Mohammad Hafeez, along with Shoaib Malik, are still around, threatening to take on this new challenge as well.
The line-ups of the two teams are not too different from that final, many will remember how the aftermath was. Pakistan got a big bugbear off their back, and celebrated with a dig at the advertisers. Bumrah has finally shaken off taunts of that no-ball as well. Tomorrow there’s a chance that it can all happen again to any player from either side. Both Kohli’s and Arthur’s words have merit, and drawbacks. But it could prove useful to many of them.
When: June 16, 2019 at 10:30 AM Local Time
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
What to expect: Hopefully, the rain stays away. It’s a ground that has favoured pacers usually, but tomorrow’s strip looks a ‘little brown’ reckoned Mickey Arthur.
India: Virat Kohli hinted that they would think about including an extra pacer if the game is shortened by rain. But they’re unlikely to make any big changes, otherwise.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Pakistan: Mickey Arthur was concerned about how the pitch looked (“a little brown”). Spin should play a bigger part than it did in their previous outing against Australia.
Probable XI: Imam ul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir
Stats and Trivia
– MS Dhoni will be appearing in his 341st ODI for India, becoming the country’s second-most capped player after Sachin Tendulkar
– The average first innings score in Machester since 2015 has been just 212
What they said:
“Tense was Champions Trophy 2009, where Yuvi fractured a finger, and I was literally flown in and in two days time I was playing against Pakistan at Centurion. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, and I played a very bad shot, and I couldn’t sleep until 6:00 in the morning. I was looking at the ceiling and thinking, that’s it, I’ve flown in, and now I’m finished. So that was the most tense moment I’ve experienced” – Virat Kohli on his most tense moment in India-Pakistan games