What is the first thing we all notice when the groups are decided for any tournament? Whether India or Pakistan have been put up in the same group or not. And yet again, both teams did manage ending up in the same group. I’m starting to think this is some sort of ploy by the ICC to create more drama in the otherwise dull group stages.
So anyway, Pakistan is to face India, South Africa and West Indies in the group stages, and only 2 of these 4 teams get to go ahead to the semis, which means that we absolutely NEED to win at least two of our three matches to guarantee a place in the semis (no more reliance on net run rates please!). Judging from their performance in the past year, West Indies have managed to establish themselves as strong opponents again. However, I still believe that despite having astonished the whole cricketing world with their World T20 win, they’re still not THAT strong an ODI team and our bowlers can easily manage to silence their explosive batsmen. Okay, so that’s one match we SHOULD make sure we win. Next, Pakistan vs South Africa. AGAIN. As good as a team South Africa is, we’ve always managed to beat them in every ICC tournament somehow, and hopefully we’ll be doing the same this time around too. And then by the time we come to the much-anticipated-yet-much-dreaded India-Pakistan clash, we’d have already secured a place in the semis and will only be playing for pride, so that even a loss won’t matter so much this time. Pretty idealistic situation we’ve created there. If only predicting the performance of our team was as simple as this.
There are a few specific battles that we’re particularly looking forward to in the group stages:
- Mohammad Hafeez vs. Dale Steyn – How many times have we seen these two battle it out this year and how many times have we seen Hafeez eventually lose his wicket to him? This time, however, we want Hafeez to end this battle by smacking Steyn for boundaries all over the world. Okay, fine. Maybe not boundaries, but ONE six at least?
- Junaid Khan vs. Virat Kohli –We’d like to watch Junaid Khan break Kohli’s stumps ONE more time and then we can live in peace for the rest of our lives.
- Saeed Ajmal vs. Chris Gayle – The best spinner in the world against one of the most explosive batsmen there is, now that’ll be a battle to watch.
Any specific battles you’re looking forward to? Add them in in the comments section!