After all the anticipation, talks, and emotional ups and downs, the long-awaited India-Pakistan 2023 World Cup showdown will kick off in Ahmedabad on Saturday, October 14. Despite both teams entering the game with impressive victories in their first two matches of the tournament, historical records indicate that Team India is expected to be the clear favorites.
The Men in Blue have claimed victory in their previous four completed ODI matches against Pakistan with significant leads, which includes their most recent 228-run triumph in the Asia Cup. To make matters more difficult for Pakistan, India has an unblemished record against them in seven 50-over World Cup encounters, stretching all the way back to their initial showdown in 1992.
While history may not always be a determining factor, it appears to influence Pakistan’s mindset as the World Cup clashes with India continue. Additionally, India will enjoy significant crowd support at the crowded Narendra Modi Stadium.
With the odds seemingly stacked against them, the 1992 World Cup champions must be at their best from the outset and employ effective strategies to overcome the dominant Indian side.
Taking this into consideration, let’s examine three key actions Pakistan must take to disrupt India and secure their first victory in an ODI World Cup match against their arch-rivals.
#3 It’s evident that Pakistan needs to dismiss Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli during the Powerplay
Removing Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early in their innings is an absolute necessity for Pakistan to have any hope of competing against India. Both batsmen are in outstanding form, with Rohit recently scoring a stunning century against Afghanistan, and Kohli kicking off the World Cup with consecutive half-centuries.
Although dismissing these two accomplished batsmen is a challenging task, Pakistan need only look back to their recent Asia Cup encounter against India for inspiration.
In that match, they successfully dismissed Rohit and Kohli within the first seven overs, which played a significant role in limiting India to a manageable total of 266, despite a substantial 138-run fifth-wicket partnership between Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan.
In the last five years, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have dominated Pakistan, with multiple strong performances, resulting in India’s victories.
Whenever Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been dismissed early, Team India has shown vulnerability. Pakistan can recall the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy when they defeated India by dismissing both batters for low scores.
Pakistan’s left-arm pacers, including Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, and Mohammad Amir, have had success in dismissing Kohli in the past. Shaheen Afridi, who has dismissed Rohit and Kohli twice in white-ball cricket, will be crucial for Pakistan’s hopes against India.
#2 Openers should handle the new ball and build a strong base
Another critical aspect for Pakistan is their batting performance against the new ball, particularly when facing the in-form Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah has been in exceptional form in the initial two matches, securing six wickets, including dismissing one of the openers in each game.
In their most recent encounter, Bumrah’s dismissal of Imam-ul-Haq triggered a sequence of wickets, resulting in Pakistan being dismissed for a meager 128. For Pakistan to succeed, they need Imam-ul-Haq to regain his form, especially after Abdullah Shafique’s impressive 113 in their previous match against Sri Lanka.
Despite a strong beginning to the year with four half-centuries in seven innings, the left-handed batsman has managed only one 50 in his last six performances.
There have been occasions when the Indian bowling attack struggled when opposing openers launched an aggressive attack, like when Australia reached 78/0 in eight overs in their lone victory in the recent ODI series.
Australia won the final ODI of the three-match series earlier this year with a 68-run opening partnership within 11 overs. A strong start also puts pressure on Shardul Thakur and the spinners, especially on the expected flat track in Ahmedabad.
Moreover, Pakistan’s last victory against India in ODIs was in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, primarily driven by openers Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali, who posted a significant 128-run partnership in 23 overs.
Taking all these factors into account, it’s evident that Pakistan’s chances of winning the match heavily depend on their performance during the powerplays in both the batting and bowling innings.
#1 Pakistan should opt for an additional fast bowler instead of one spinner
Pakistan should think about including right-arm fast bowler Mohammad Wasim instead of one of the spinners, Mohammad Nawaz or Shadab Khan. Given their recent poor form, Nawaz is expected to be replaced by the additional seamer, while Shadab, as the vice-captain, remains in the team.
In the previous game, Nawaz struggled, giving up 62 runs for one wicket in nine overs. The 29-year-old struggled to perform, securing just three wickets in four matches during the Asia Cup and conceding 55 runs in his eight overs against India.
This year, Nawaz has been less effective in the middle overs, taking only 11 wickets with an average of over 43. Given that the Ahmedabad pitch favors pace over spin, Wasim could be the suitable substitute for Nawaz.
His aptitude for bowling in the death overs will permit Pakistan to extend Shaheen Afridi’s spell with the new ball for early wickets. The team also doesn’t sacrifice much batting depth, as Wasim can wield the long handle effectively, much like Nawaz.