T20 World Cup: India aim to maintain all-win record against Pakistan | Cricket News

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History favours India against Pakistan in World Cups but the T20 format has razor-thin margin for error and even less regard for records…
It is inevitable, isn’t it? “Not on our watch! Not today!” This is how Team India‘s cricketers may react if allowed to dwell on the impossibility of maintaining the team’s near-three-decade domination of Pakistan in World Cup matches.

Completely upending the regular humiliation Indian cricket tended to suffer at the hands of Pakistan in the 1980s and beyond, India have not lost to Pakistan in the World Cup, across formats, since Sydney 1992.
That was a match marked by the rise of Sachin Tendulkar and the decline of Javed Miandad, whose last-ball six, six years earlier in Sharjah, had swung the psychological pendulum Pakistan’s way. It’s since been followed by the sport’s unique cyclical shifts, the rise of T20s, the banishment of Pakistan from bilateral fixtures and a gradual erasing of Pakistani cricket and its cricketers from Indian minds.

In recent times, there have been too few games to even qualify as a rivalry, let alone a marquee one. Yet the staying power of a sporting contest built on geopolitical differences seems infinite, ensuring a money-spinner every time they do play. So what if the new crop of Pakistani cricketers are not household names in India?
If there is a stage in recent times where this dwindling rivalry has found a new toehold, it’s the T20 World Cup. This tournament, more than any other, has been all about India-Pakistan. It started with it, back in sun-drenched Durban and Johannesburg in 2007 when MS Dhoni‘s fresh-faced bunch stole an era-defining title win from under Pakistan’s nose.
Now, back in the desert, even as a one-off in Dubai on Sunday, there will be another chance for sepia-craving 1980s cricket fans to witness magic once thought lost.

For the rest, it’s “just another game,” as captain Virat Kohli always likes to put it.
Five T20 and seven 50-over World Cup games later, India have wrested the psychological advantage back to their satisfaction. It’s not for nothing that Pakistan have crumbled again and again. Once even their fringe players could psych themselves up to frenzy for an India game. Even out-of-touch Pakistani batters could find ways to belt Indian bowlers. The shoe is now on the other foot, brought on by decades of systemic growth in Indian cricket. And, of course, better fielding!
Which brings us to every cricketer’s boon and bane, the dreaded law of averages. Neville Cardus once wrote how “in no other game does the law of averages get to work so potently, so mysteriously”. India have played truant from the law of averages till now but their dream run against Pakistan in World Cups will, inevitably, end some day.

That may not happen on Sunday, though: India are the stronger, more experienced side and firm favourites. However, margins are thin in the T20 format and as Kohli said, a few balls can decide a game.
The challenge for India is to stave off the inevitable for one more day. For Babar Azam‘s feisty bunch, always lurching from one crisis to another, it is yet another chance to avenge recent off-field slights by showcasing their cricketing might.
India’s best have had time to size up these conditions during the IPL but Pakistan have won 11 T20 games in succession in the UAE since 2016. Of these, three each have come against West Indies (2016), Australia and NZ (2018) and two against Sri Lanka (2017).

“We have that record because we played so well. Pakistan are strong, you have to play your best against them every time. It’s all about execution. The atmosphere inside the stadium is different but our mindset is not.”
Azam, while laying his cards on the table by declaring his XII, said, ” Jo guzar gaya uspey hum nehi focus kar rahey hai (we are not dwelling on what has been). Strength, confidence and ability on the day matters.”
In case we had forgotten, Azam added, almost as an afterthought, “Records are meant to be broken.”

That may be true, but not inevitable.


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