T20 World Cup: Pakistan smash India to grab ‘favourites’ tag

Emirates 24|7's cricket expert disagrees... and dares to pick a different favourite

Pakistan cricket has a CV that spans the sublime and the ridiculous of the length and breadth of the game.

For the millions of fans in the crucible of cricket – India and Pakistan – there really is only one that matters.

Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup cricket game of any format.

That is, of course, if warm-up games don’t count.

Kamran Akmal smashed an unbeaten 92 off 50 balls as Pakistan came from behind to defeat India by five wickets in a warm-up match for the World Twenty20 on Monday.

Australia cricket great Dean Jones is perhaps the only expert to have offered a favourite’s tag in a tournament completely devoid of a clear front-runner.

He picked Pakistan.

Evidence of just how devastating the Pakistanis can be was on show yesterday as, chasing India's commanding 185-3, they appeared to be out of contention when they lost five wickets by the 12th over with just 91 runs on the board at the Premadasa stadium.

Akmal and former captain Shoaib Malik turned the game around with a brilliant unbroken stand of 95 off 46 balls that helped Pakistan beat the shell-shocked Indians with five balls to spare.

Akmal plundered six sixes, including the winning shot off seamer Irfan Pathan which sailed over the cover fence. Malik remained unbeaten on 37 off 18 balls.

Virat Kohli had earlier top-scored for India with 75 not out, while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed four wickets for 23 runs.

Then there is the never-say-die confidence that Pakistan boast.

"We knew that if India could post a huge total, so could we," said Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez. "Kamran was exceptional, and Malik's experience also helped."

India and Pakistan are drawn in different groups for the preliminary league, but are seeded to meet in the Super Eights round in Colombo on September 30.

Pakistan also have Javed Miandad in their corner. Whether he is a guiding or dividing force is yet to be seen.

However, the last time India seemed invincible – in the Sharjah ODI series of the 1980s, Miandad broke the jinx with a last ball six.

Pakistan beat Australia easily in a T20 encounter in the UAE just weeks ago as well.

Favourites or not, they might take some beating here.

Expert View: Pakistan scary, but India are favourites

John Rajkumar

Abul Razzaq didn’t play a part, Shahid Afridi did more harm than good, a needless run out, and they still chased down 186 with 5 balls to spare and 5 wickets in hand. 

This is a scary team.

No, but in my opinion, not the favourite.

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez has led them well and for Pakistan all this means is a united team.

They have always had more talent than the rest.

Discipline and playing for each other have been the issues that they have struggled with.

Hafeez seems to have addressed both.

The only question remaining is: can they handle pressure?

Scoring 12 an over in a warm game is one thing, even if it is against the arch rival.

But will their batsmen keep their cool in a knockout game with the World Cup at stake? 

Pakistan are at their best when they are under-estimated. That will not happen this world cup.

India are still the favourites in my book, they are a tried and tested bunch and what they lack in the bowling is more than made up for with their batting.

With the exception of Sehwag, they are dependable chasers who thrive on pressure.

Then there is the  IPL experience, which for once, no will argue, works in their favour.

 

Writing exclusively for Emirates 24|7 Dubai resident and founder of cricketinc.com John Rajkumar offers his unique take on the World Cup. To play the Fantasy T20 World Cup Game click here

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