So Manchester makes its bow as a venue this Sunday (16th June) as the biggest match of the Cricket World Cup comes to Old Trafford as India take on Pakistan in what is always a match full of passion against two of the world’s greatest rivals. Yes there are some political tensions but once they take to the field this weekend cricket will be focus for up to 100 overs. I walk pass the cricket ground most days and have seen the upgrades being made to turn it into a World Cup venue. A fantastic match is in the offing.
Led by Virat Kohli, they go into the match unbeaten in the tournament in their three matches. They made easy work of South Africa, chasing down 227 easily in their opening fixture, before smashing 350+ to win by 36 runs over Australia. Their latest match versus New Zealand was abandoned without a ball being bowled, so they come into this match fresh. Their batsmen are in form, their bowling attack is potent, especially with Jasprit Bumrah in very good nick. Their two wins were pretty comprehensive too, and not as close the scores tell you. Most definitely they are the favourites.
To be honest is anybody surprised by what we have seen from the 1992 winners. Bounced out by the West Indies in an opening game thrashing, that finished even before the break between inninngs. They followed this with a superb performance against the hosts and favourites England leading to a deserved victory. Their next match against Sri Lanka was rained off, which brings me to their latest performance against the Australians. An awful bowling and fielding performance before Mohammed Amir ripped though the opposition batting, then after looking good in the run chase they then collapsed eventually losing by 41 runs. They showed all that is good and bad about their cricket and as mentioned nobody is the least bit surprised by it. One things for sure if they have one of their off days against India they wont be allowed to forget it.
The Manchester weather was always going to be a bit of a bone of contention, though to be fair England as a whole is a place where you cannot trust overhead conditions whatever the time of year. Both sides have been victims of washouts and there have now been four in total, twice as many as there have ever been in any World Cup. This time last year England was basking in an early summer heatwave so it was always sods laws that come the actual year of the competition the weather gods would not be favourable. As I post (Friday 14th) the forecast for Sunday is for sunshine early on with possible showers later in the day – but lets be honest come matchday it could change significantly, which adds even more intrigue to what is always a fascinating game.
Only a fool would back against India who look every inch a side who know exactly what they want to do once they get on the pitch. Pakistan are totally the opposition a complete toss of a coin as to what type of performance they will put in. Let’s be honest India should win, but I have a feeling we will see good Pakistan at Old Trafford, they showed against England a performance when under the pressure and have not beaten India in a Cricket World Cup before, maybe it is their time. Yes it goes against all logic, but so do Pakistan. It will be close, it will be dramatic, with potential weather interventions and possibility of Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculations being involved but I’m going for a win for the men in green someway somehow.
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