Monday 15 July, 2019

India v Pakistan: Fierce rivals hope Manchester stays dry

India captain Virat Kohli.

India captain Virat Kohli.

India can take a significant step towards the semi-finals by beating fierce rivals Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup on Sunday.

Virat Kohli's side has looked among the strongest in the tournament to date, while Pakistan have improved after a horror show in their opening seven-wicket loss to West Indies.

India and Pakistan have the biggest rivalry in the sport and both teams will be hoping the weather holds out so a full match can be played in front of a packed crowd in Manchester.

Light showers are forecast for a venue where India beat their neighbours by 47 runs in the 1999 World Cup, although it was Pakistan who would go on to reach the final that year before being outplayed by Australia.

Shikhar Dhawan will not be fit for India as he continues to recover from a hand injury, but Rishabh Pant has trained with the team after being flown in to join the squad.

In seeking a first World Cup win in this fixture, Pakistan could be inspired by their performance in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, where they thumped India by 180 runs at The Oval thanks in part to Fakhar Zaman's century.

But it could be the Manchester weather that holds the key to the game, with rain likely to interrupt and perhaps play a major part in the result.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

India have looked strong, justifying their status among the favourites with wins over South Africa and Australia followed by a washout against New Zealand. Rohit Sharma has been in fine form with the bat, his 179 runs putting him among the top scorers at the tournament, while he has passed 50 in each of his last four ODI appearances.

But Pakistan could be facing an early exit as they have only won one of their four matches so far, beating England in a thriller after being rolled over by West Indies, then seeing a fixture with Sri Lanka rained off. No bowler at the World Cup has more than Mohammad Amir's 10 wickets, but he has failed to claim a single victim in four of six previous ODI appearances against India.

WHAT THEY SAID

India captain Kohli: "If we play well, we can beat anyone. Nothing changes according to the opposition. For the players, it is very important to be professional, be it any team you are up against."

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur: "Obviously, there's a massive hype that's created a lot of the time by the media really. Our guys are prepared. We're ready. We're comfortable that we can get out there and perform, and we are so excited about the opportunity tomorrow."

OPTA FACTS

- India have won all six of their previous Cricket World Cup matches against Pakistan, five of those victories coming having defended a first-innings total.

- Since beating Pakistan at Old Trafford in the 1999 World Cup, India have played just one ODI at the venue in Manchester, losing by three wickets there to England in 2007.

- Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs. Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings; Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.

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