India vs Pakistan, 1st T20 on 25th December 2012 at 7:00PM IST at Chinnaswamy stadium Bangalore
25 December 2012, Bangalore:
India Vs Pakistan (INDO-PAK), 19:00 (IST)
1st T20 Int (D/N)
M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
“Indians better equipped to handle pressure situations” says Inzamam Ul-Haq.
“It is in Bangalore that a new-look Pakistan will start the series against India, a revival of cricketing ties between two countries after a gap of five years” he added.
Head to Head: India have played a total of 3 Twenty20 Internationals against Pakistan and are yet to taste defeat against their arch-rivals. All their matches against Pakistan have been at World events. Their first meeting, which was in the World T20 in 2007, ended in a tie with India taking points from the game via a bowl-out. No one can forget their next game, which was the final of the T20 World Cup – a thriller in which India emerged victors. Their last encounter was in Sri Lanka in the 2012 edition of the World T20, which India won by a comfortable fashion.
Teams’ performance in T20Is in 2012:
While their performance in the Test arena this year can only be termed abject, India have also not been as consistent as they would have hoped for in the Twenty20 Internationals in 2012, losing 5 out of 12 matches. India participated in the T20 World cup and lost just one game, which was to Australia, but such was the magnitude of the loss that they were knocked out in the Super 8s stage. At the start of the year, India, who played two T20Is in Australia, ended up level with the hosts in that series. Following this, they lost an one-off T20I against South Africa before winning one against Sri Lanka. They ended up losing the T20I series – part of their preparation for the World T20 – against New Zealand 0-1 at home with one match being abandoned. Following the World Cup, they got off to a good start against England with a comfortable win, but could not carry forward the good work, suffering a close loss to in the second game. England thus squared the T20I series 1-1 to deny India a chance to go atop the rankings for the shortest format of the game. The two T20Is against Pakistan now give India a chance to improve their win ratio in the 20 over format this year.
While Pakistan haven’t been all that bad in Test matches this year, the visitors, just like India, have been inconsistent in the twenty over format of the game. At the start of the year, Pakistan lost a T20I series 2-1 to England in the United Arab Emirates. In June, Pakistan travelled to Sri Lanka and played two Twenty20 games and ended up squaring the series. As part of their preparation for the T20 World Cup, they took on Australia in a series of three Twenty20 Internationals at the UAE. Pakistan won the first game in a comfortable fashion, while the second match ended in a tie and saw Pakistan clinch it in the Super over before Australia roared back with a thumping win in the third T20I. Pakistan performed admirably in their World event, but they failed to deliver the knock out punch, losing to Sri Lanka in the semi-final, which was their last T20I outing. Now, as Pakistan get set for the clash of the sub-continent rivals, they will be looking to avenge their loss to India in the World T20, with nothing less than a series win.
While there is no doubt that the Indian batting line up does not lack talent, the form of some of the batsmen remains a concern. The opening slots are most likely to be taken up by Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir. While the former has not played too many games this year, he is a promising batsman and going by his performance in the first T20I against England, Rahane does pack quite a punch. His opening partner Gambhir is the second highest scorer for India in T20Is this year. However, his strike-rate is not all that impressive and the way he struggled for runs against England, suggests that this series might turn out to be a final chance for the left-hander to redeem himself. Coming at number three for India is Virat Kohli, who has had a tremendous year with the bat and he will be the lynch-pin of the Indian batting batting order. Next comes Yuvraj Singh, who has been contributing his fair share with both the ball and the bat. Rohit Sharma has not been much of a contributor this year but he finds himself a place while Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni’s presence in the middle order gives India the fire-power required for the death overs.
India‘s weakness lies in the bowling department, with quite a few combinations being tried out by the Men in Blue this year, but nothing quite working out to their satisfaction. Yuvraj Singh has been India’s main wicket-taker this year and has done a good job with the ball. But not much support has come for him from the other end. R Ashwin’s economy is over 7, which might not be all that bad, but a strike-rate of 28.5 has meant that India’s premier off-spinner has not been contributing much in terms of wickets. Piyush Chawla who has played 4 matches this year, has not given away too many runs but he too has not picked up many wickets either. Irfan Pathan and L Balaji have done well but neither are in the current team which will take on Pakistan. India’s pace bowling pair of Ashok Dinda and Parvinder Awana went for a few against England and it remains to be seen how much they have learnt from that performance. India also have the option of turning to Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but with the former not having played for a long time and the latter probably in the team as a back-up, India’s pace attack does not look all that threatening. MS Dhoni though, may not look into all these, and would only be expecting a disciplined performance from the lot.
If India’s weakness is with the ball, Pakistan’s lies with the bat and in the field. Some of the strike-rates of the Pakistani top-order makes for sorry reading, while most of the batsmen also do not average all that high. Skipper Mohammad Hafeez may have scored in excess of 200 runs this year, but a strike-rate of 97.6 can only be called criminal as does Shoaib Malik’s 92.3. Umar Akmal has batted decently although he too does not have a very high scoring rate. Nasir Jamshed and Imran Nasir are probably the only batsmen to possess good strike-rates although the same cannot be said of their batting averages. The return of Kamran Akmal into Pakistan’s scheme of things has not been a big help either nor has Shahid Afridi’s presence. While India’s bowling attack might not possess the fire-power, they might just have enough to handle the Pakistani batters.
What they lack in batting, they more than make it up with the ball. The presence of world-class bowlers like Saeed Ajmal & Umar Gul, useful resources like Sohail Tanvir & Junaid Khan and quality all-rounders like Hafeez & Afridi, give Pakistan a lot of variety in their bowling attack. However, the form of some of the bowlers has not been all that great. Saeed Ajmal is way ahead of the pack in terms of wickets and economy while Tanvir too has a similar strike-rate and has also given away very less runs. But the concern is with the rest of the bowlers, who have not been at their best in the recent times. Gul has been expensive and has not picked up too many wickets. The Pakistan skipper, despite a good economy, has not contributed much in terms of wickets while Afridi’s form has been most disappointing. Captain Hafeez will be hoping that Pakistan’s rise up and produce something special, which they are known to do more often than not against their arch-rivals.
Winning the toss will be crucial because dew may have an impact. If you see both the sides, they are quite the same. Their ability to play spinners is quite same: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Every match is a new match. We have a good strong side and we know that beating India in India will be a significant achievement. So we are focusing on this series as a new series: Saeed Ajmal