|Scorecard:||India v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in India 2012/13|
DateLine: 25th December 2012
India v Pakistan
1st T20I 2012
After over-eating at Christmas lunch and the possibility of a couple of toots with the family, it's a relief to know that us, the cricket-fans, will be able to kick back and enjoy the start of a T20 series starting from tomorrow that is bound to be fraught with aggression. Pakistan, still regulated to being the wandering nomads of the cricketing world, travel to India to reignite an age-old rivalry. Bi-lateral ties had been suspended between the two countries since terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, following breaks between 1962 and 1977, and 1999 to 2004 due to war and conflict. The tension will be high and the pressure palpable. Who has it in them to start the series victoriously?
Following their test series loss at home to the English, the only series left to inspire Indian cricket fans before their rivals landed was a two-match T20 series against England. They drew this 1-1, a good performance in the first installment leading to a narrow loss in the second. They can take heart from their performances in the T20 arena, as the balance in their side and experience through competitions such as the IPL has led to fairly consistent performances. In fact, that is something that cannot be said for the majority of competing T20 cricket nations. Virat Kohli is still brimming with form, leading one to wonder just how influential the man will prove to be. At the age of 24 he still has a long time left in the game, and India are already looking towards him as a successor to MS Dhoni. Flamboyant Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and skipper Dhoni himself have had some runs under their belts and they would like to continue in the same vein against Pakistan.
Dhoni himself performed well with the bat in both T20s and is still an important lower-order batsman in the limited over formats. However, the burden of the captaincy across all formats is a strain and has led to split-captaincy among most nations. With the multiple fixtures for the Indians across the holiday break, the pressure of the situation will ultimately come to a head in the new year. Yuvraj Singh has made a great comeback to International cricket with his display against the England, runs and wickets derailing the England in the first match and was the only bowler to trouble them in the second. He will also have an important role to play in this series.
Except for a spirited show put up by Yuvraj and Ashok Dinda, none of the Indian bowlers made an impact on the English batsmen. Parvinder Awana, Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla have all struggled to get wickets. This may prompt skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to give a chance to either Abhimanyu Mithun or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It will be interesting to see if Dhoni gives a chance to Ambati Rayudu, considering his past performances in this format of the game. But it might prove to be a tough test for Indian batsmen against Pakistan`s formidable pace attack, led by Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir.
The news surrounding Pakistan focuses on the ODI series, where they've dropped the talismanic Shahid Afridi. However, he will feature in the T20 series and captain Misbah-ul-Haq has hinted that if Boom Boom shows a continuance of his recent run of form, he may still have a chance of featuring. Two half centuries for the PCB Blues including a 90 off 64 balls has shown that it's possible that Afridi values his place in the Pakistan side more than it would seem from past performances. He averaged a woeful 6.00 in the recent World T20 and took only four wickets. For Pakistan to be successful in this T20 series they will need to be aggressive, as per the insistence of Inzamam-ul-Haq, the newly-appointed batting consultant. Shahid Afridi will need to rise to the occasion, or face a slump in his career.
Mohammad Hafeez will captain the side and his role as opening batsman and possible opening bowler will be pivotal. He scored a century for the PCB Greens in an ODI warm-up and has a few half centuries to his name in domestic cricket. His form with the ball is inconsistent however, and this will need to improve against the Indians, prodigious players of spin. This could perhaps be the department where it is all won and lost in this series, and as such, Saeed Ajmal is name that jumps to mind. He's in good form domestically, always among the wickets and will relish his opportunity in India. It will be individual performances from men such as him that could prove to be the difference between these two sides.
Pakistan have landed in India after making wholesale changes to their bowling. They have made six changes to the squad that went to Sri Lanka for the T20 World Cup. Fast bowler Junaid Khan, who was dropped from World T20 squad, has been included for his ability to do well in the death overs. Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Amin and M Irfan have also made a comeback while Asad Ali and Zulfiqar Babar are the other inclusions.
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.
The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore will host the opening T20, and Inzamam-ul-Haq will have fond memories of the ground, it being the place where he struck a century in his 100th test. It has yet to host an International T20, but played as a fairly high scoring ground throughout IPL 2012, with frequent scores among the 180s. It will be new to many of the Pakistani squad, as they do not feature in the IPL.
India have played with balance and composure in their recent T20 Internationals against England and despite their loss in the second, have looked strong. As is the nature of the T20 game, an individual performance such as Eoin Morgan's can swing the game. India have more of these types of players and are likely to be too much for Pakistan.
India (From): Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Parvinder Awana, Ashok Dinda, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ambati Rayudu
Pakistan (From): Mohammad Hafeez(c), Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal(w), Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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