A battle so ridiculously intense that billions breath breathlessly, so rare that even politicians want a piece of it and so special that fans talk about long before it begins and for ages.. that's arch rivalry, between India and Pakistan.
Although, it's just a cricket match.
When it comes to world cup, India have won all 4 previous encounters but overall, Pakistan have always had an edge. There was a decade when Pakistan used to walk over Indians without breaking a sweat (specially at Sharjah) but recently, blue boys have frequently defeated green team. what will be the outcome of second semifinal of world cup 2011 is a million dollar question but 30th March will certainly go down in history for those who understand the game. lets see how these two teams stand before the battle begins :-
Head to head
124 India v Pakistan one day internationals, Pakistan have won 69 and India lag behind with 46 wins besides 9 abandoned/no-results. Even in India, visitors have 17 wins besides 9 losses and 2 no results and then, at the venue = PCA stadium in Mohali, Pakistan have won both previous meetings, by 7 wickets and 4 wickets. The last time these two teams met was back in 2010 Asia cup and India had won through some Harbhajan Singh heroics.
There's a case for S Sreesanth who's been warming benches most part of this world cup specially when Munaf Patel's line and length has been measured out. Sreesanth may be expensive but he's a wicket taking option home team can do with, easing pressure on Zaheer Khan. Harbhajan Singh and R Ashwin will have their job cut out cause Pakistani batsmen know their every trick. Virendra Sehwag has had an indifferent tournament but Sachin Tendulkar seems hungry. Yuvraj Singh will be assured of man of the series award with another match winning performance but runs aren't coming off captain MS Dhoni's bat. Yusuf Pathan may again have to sit out after Suresh Raina's stylish innings in quarterfinal.
India (Itsonlycricket's pick) : Virendra Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk, capt), Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth.
Experienced duo of Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq will handle responsibility of consuming most of overs along with level headed youngster Asad Shafiq while openers Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal, as always, will try to collect quick runs against the new ball. Umar Akmal is a talent that can lure his team out of danger but runs haven't flown out of Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq yet in world cup. Umar Gul is Pakistan's powerplay bowler but second seamer slot is open if think tank want to unleash rookie Junaid Khan or recall retiring speedster Shoaib Akhtar, if not both of them considering the conditions. Saeed Ajmal and captain Afridi will lead spin attack along with Mohammad Hafeez who also bowls with new ball.
Pakistan (itsonlycricket's pick) : Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wk), Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar and Junaid Khan.
Pitch and conditions
PCA stadium in Mohali is one of the best cricketing venues in India and curator Daljit Singh is one of the finest in country, often concentrating on good cricket match rather than favoring home team. Generally a pitch for the seamers with good carry and bounce for batters to play strokes -- reverse swing and pressure of the match are the factors both teams will want to win the toss and bat first although dew may make match interesting in second half.
"Yes, the lack of injuries to Ashish and Munaf is a major concern", says Indian captain MS Dhoni, hoping to get Praveen Kumar as emergency replacement who's now completely fit.
"How they (India) will handle the pressure in the match is going to be key. I'm confident that they'll not face any problems in doing that. We are a good side and have the guts to face any situation", says Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, asserting his team is up for the battle.