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Spicy New York pitch in focus as arch rivals clash

“The pitch is much better today,” Ravi Shastri told Cricbuzz after conducting the toss for the Canada vs Ireland match on Friday. He was right – the match saw a much better balanced contest between bat and ball than in the past. As this website reported earlier, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is ensuring that the match is not a low-scoring one due to the dangerous nature of the surface. Perhaps for the first time, the pitch has attracted so much attention ahead of an India-Pakistan match. Usually, the focus is on the fierce rivalry, individual contests and whether Pakistan can break India’s stranglehold on the World Cup. But with Pakistan’s high voltage pace battery – comprising Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Aamir, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf – expected to be in action on Sunday, concerns have been raised about the behaviour or misbehaviour of the pitch. The pitch as well as the new ball will be the focal point, with plenty of wickets falling on the shining, swinging and bouncing ball. As a result, the powerplay overs will be crucial not for runs to be made but for wickets lost. It will be important to be cautious rather than brave.

hardly an ideal start. Thanks to Virat Kohli’s brilliance, they managed to chase down 160 to win the game.

As per New Zealand records, batsmen can take advantage of bowling once the ball gets old, making wickets in hand more important than runs scored in the first half of the innings. India couldn’t have hoped for a better opening pair to deal with such a situation.

But then these are match-up situations. Rohit is known to be vulnerable to left-arm pacers and Pakistan have two of the best in the business – Afridi and Aamir. Similarly, Kohli’s history with Rauf suggests that the opening overs can influence the outcome of the game. With limited assistance for spin, batsmen can target spinners and from the Indian point of view, Shivam Dube’s ability to attack spinners cannot be underestimated.

Also, given Kuldeep Yadav’s match-winning ability and his impressive record against Pakistan, his inclusion in the lineup could prove beneficial.

After losing to the USA, Pakistan find themselves in a cricketing rabbit hole. However, such situations are not unfamiliar to Babar Azam’s side; they have a history of suffering unexpected defeats in World Cups. They also suffered a similar defeat against Afghanistan in Chennai during the recent ODI World Cup.

Former captain Ramiz Raja urged them to unite and make the most of the opportunity. “This will be the biggest boost. The conditions in New York are like a lottery and give Pakistan a good chance against a strong team,” the former Pakistan captain and former board chief said. While it is not ideal that conditions determine the result and not the quality of cricket, there is nothing like ideal in an India-Pakistan match. The end proves perfect in every way.
When: India vs Pakistan, June 09, 10:30 am local time, 8 pm IST
Where: New York Nassau County International Cricket Stadium,
What to expect: A high-octane contest with passion in the field and the stands. Although India – with a better batting line-up – are favourites, reputation, form and track record mean nothing in an India-Pakistan match. The pitch is favouring the fast bowlers, so it is unlikely to be a high-scoring game, but it will still be a thrilling contest.
When: India vs Pakistan, June 09, 10:30 am local time, 8 pm IST
Where: International Cricket Stadium Nassau County
What to expect: A high-octane contest with passion in the field and the stands. Although India – with a better batting line-up – are favourites, reputation, form and track record mean nothing in an India-Pakistan match. The pitch is favouring the fast bowlers, so it is unlikely to be a high-scoring game, but it will still be a thrilling contest.
Head to Head: India lead 6-1 in their seven T20 World Cup encounters against Pakistan. Each of the last five T20 World Cup matches between the two has been won by the chasing teams.

See Teams

India
Injuries/Unavailability: The Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid duo is not expected to make any changes to the four-pronged pace bowling attack. One change that might come to their mind is bringing in Kuldeep Yadav, who has a stellar record against Pakistan, in place of Axar Patel.
Strategy and Matchups: Rizwan and Babar’s weakness against left-arm spin is no secret. The duo concede at a strike rate of 116 and 107.2 respectively, and have lost their wickets to left-arm spinners 7 and 6 times respectively in all T20Is. India might give Axar Patel the new ball for an over or two to get quick breakthroughs.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj
Pakistan.
Injuries/Unavailability: Coach Gary Kirsten, who was in India recently, knows the Indian cricketers well and he might come up with a plan to break the Indian supremacy over their arch-rivals. They are known to inspire teams and Pakistan will look to them for inspiration after losing to the USA in the first match. However, the place of Shadab Khan, an important member of the team, might be in question as the wicket doesn’t offer much help for spinners. If they have to strengthen their batting, top-order batsman Saim Ayub could be an option. Strategy and matchups: Indian openers Rohit (SR: 121.21) and Kohli (SR: 103.10) have been dismissed 13 and 4 times respectively by left-arm pacers in the powerplay in T20Is since 2016, making their contest against Afridi and Amir worth watching. Probable XI: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Usman Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan/Sam Ayub, Shaheen.