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T20 World Cup: India Play Pakistan as Another Chapter in Storied Rivalry Awaits

Both Virat Kohli and Babar Azam will be skippering their sides for the first time in a T20 World Cup.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>India take on Pakistan on 24 October.</p></div>
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In one of world cricket’s most storied rivalries, India and Pakistan will write out yet another chapter on Sunday, 24 October in Dubai in the men’s 2021 T20 World Cup. Led by two dynamic captains, Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, both of whom can destroy bowling attacks with ease, the contest promises to live up to its high-octane billing more than ever before, especially in recent years.

A walk down memory lane will lead to nostalgia filled moments with some of the biggest names in the sport making their presence felt.

The walk would also depict India’s dominance in the fixture at the World Cup, ODI and T20I, and a change to that trend is what Babar and company will be aiming for.

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Apart from one tied game, which resulted in an Indian win after a bowl-out in 2007, the inaugural champions of the men’s T20 World Cup have comprehensively beaten their arch-rivals ever since in the tournament, five times in all. Staying with the record books though, Pakistan’s only victory against India, comprehensively too, was in the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

On Sunday evening, at the Dubai International stadium, the nostalgia and history will take a back seat as two cricketing powerhouses lock horns. Mind you, both sides have had a very different run-in to the tournament.

While India’s players have been busy in the IPL, cricket in Pakistan has gone through some unpleasant and tumultuous times with New Zealand and England pulling out of tours.

And while it has been a little chaotic in the Pakistan camp, with a lack of cricket and changes at the eleventh hour, India have added to their think tank with MS Dhoni as mentor, as they look to break the drought in ICC tournaments since 2011.

Virat Kohli Begins Swansong as T20I Captain

India have been a dominant force in the shortest format of the game, having won 73 games in 115 in the last decade and with Kohli at the helm they’ve won 27 times in 45 games. For starters, India will hope that the footnotes about the tournament are enough to spur Kohli on and bring back the batter that once conquered whatever was in his way.

Even as Ravi Shastri, Dhoni and the rest of the cricketing fraternity wait for Kohli to roll back the years a bit, India’s form in the T20s has been fantastic with a run of eight series wins coming to an end in July this year against Sri Lanka. India had fielded a second-string side which had been further hit by COVID-19.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rohit Sharma, Ravi Shastri, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli in conversation.</p></div>

Rohit Sharma, Ravi Shastri, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli in conversation.

(Image: BCCI)

The current Indian team is one of the most complete sides with almost all departments working like clockwork, especially when the personnel are picked correctly.

With Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja forming the core of the batting order, the worrying frowns can only be on the faces of opposition bowlers. Should they all click together, the fans would be treated to some high-quality batting. Backing them up of course are the likes of Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav, both of whom can be devastating in their own ways. In short, Pakistan’s bowlers must be on the money if they want to win their battles.

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And while the batting department is explosive, the bowlers in the Indian camp are accurate, shrewd, and unrelenting in their efforts. Expect Jasprit Bumrah to lead the attack with the guile of spinners like Jadeja, R Ashwin and Varun Chakaravarthy backing him up, along with of course Shardul Thakur, who always finds the breakthrough at the most important time.

Uncertain and Chaotic Pakistan Look to Put Off-Field Issues Behind

The Pakistan camp has seen a bit of an overhaul with new officials and coaches joining the fray, however the build-up was anything but smooth. Weather and chaos regarding fixtures and a security threat meant, Pakistan managed to play one of 12 games they had scheduled.

However, Pakistan cricket and chaos aren’t alien, in fact they quite enjoy it. Remember their only T20 World Cup title came on the back off the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009.

Ranked number 1 in the shortest format for quite a while in recent years, Pakistan’s biggest strength lies in their bowling attack.

Led by Shaheen Afridi, the pace attack is probably one of the fastest in the tournament with Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali among the others alongside their multiple spin options in Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz.

And while the bowling can be a cause of concern for India, especially if the conditions are conducive to fast bowling, India’s biggest worry will be the likes of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. While the veteran Shoaib Malik and the young Haider Ali can be more than a handful, the batting department has their task cut out.

Super Sunday Beckons!

Neither team will want to concede an inch to the other, especially as they begin their World Cup campaign with a blockbuster clash.

Will Virat’s swansong begin with a bang or will Babar’s first T20 World Cup as skipper start off with upsetting the applecart?

The record books await their latest entry as the fans hope Super Sunday ebbs and flows.

Both remember, are aiming for a second title in the T20 World Cup's history.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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