Afridi led Pakistan to win over India in Asia Cup
Cricket's version of a gladiatorial streetfight will play out on Sunday when defending champions India take on arch-rivals Pakistan in a high-voltage World Cup clash at the Adelaide Oval.
In their last one-day meeting a year ago in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Pakistan snatched a dramatic one-wicket win with two balls to spare after Afridi smashed Ravichandran Ashwin for two sixes in the final over.
Millions of passionate fans across the world will follow the Pool B match which organisers said was sold out in 20 minutes despite an uninspiring build up by both teams.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India start their campaign desperate to bounce back after a miserable bilateral tour of Australia where they were beaten 2-0 in the Tests and did not win a match in the subsequent tri-series.
Pakistan have had their bowling attack decimated due to injuries and the reluctance to rush back one-day cricket's number one bowler Saeed Ajmal despite the off-spinner being cleared of a suspect action.
With India in disarray, Pakistan will seek to end their winless World Cup streak against the neighbours - five successive defeats since 1992 - with renewed hope.
Skipper Misbah-ul Haq, who like Afridi will quit one-day cricket after the tournament, will be inspired by Pakistan's title under Imran Khan when the World Cup was played Down Under in 1992.
"If we play as well as we can, there is no reason why we can't win again," Misbah, 40, said when asked if his team can repeat the magic of 1992. "Where there is a will, there is a way."
Misbah, playing only his second World Cup, said he was determined to change his team's fortunes against India.
"What happened in the past will not count. There is no reason why we can't win," he said.
Pakistan go into the game under a cloud, however, after eight players - including Afridi - were fined for breaking a team curfew.
A winning start for either team will boost hopes of taking one of the four quarter-final spots from the pool which also includes mighty South Africa, the West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.
Dhoni, 33, will hope his and his team's luck changes following the birth of his first child, a baby girl, in a New Delhi hospital a week before the tournament.
India will rely on their free-stroking batsmen to make up for a relatively modest bowling attack to put it across Pakistan in what is expected to be a run-laden pitch at the Adelaide Oval.
The current squad has just four players - Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ashwin and Dhoni himself - who were part of the winning combination four years ago.
But the nucleus of the side is the same which won the Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England in 2013 and finished runners-up to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh last year.
In Rohit Sharma, the only batsman with two 200s in one-day internationals, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Raina and Dhoni, India have the firepower to demolish the best attacks in the tournament.
But having lost their most experienced seamer Ishant Sharma with a knee injury, Dhoni may turn towards all-rounder Stuart Binny to balance at attack that has three frontline spinners, Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Akshar Patel.
Head to head record for India v Pakistan for Sunday's World Cup match at the Adelaide Oval:
India wins: 50
Pakistan wins: 72
Tied/No result: 4
First meeting: October 1, 1978, Quetta - India won by four runs
Last meeting: March 2, 2014, Dhaka - Pakistan won by one wicket.
Five match facts:
- India and Pakistan have won five matches apiece of their last 10 ODI meetings.
- Pakistan have lost their last seven ODIs in Australia. India have lost six of their last seven in Australia to produce a result.
- Shahid Afridi's ODI bowling average of 59.2 against India is his highest against any team - he has played against 16 oppositions in ODIs.
- Virat Kohli has hit 14 centuries in 80 ODI innings batting second. Only Sachin Tendulkar (17 in 232 innings) has more tons when chasing.
- Misbah-ul-Haq is in line to become the first player to feature at a World Cup for a Test-playing nation at the age of 40+ since Somachandra De Silva, for Sri Lanka in 1983.
Five memorable matches:
March 22, 1985
India won by 38 runs
Pakistani paceman Imran Khan had virtually put his team in a winning position when he grabbed 6-14 off 10 overs to bowl India out for a paltry 125 in a Four-Nations Cup match.
But India, led by fast bowler Kapil Dev (3-17), dismissed Pakistan for 87 to clinch a low-scoring thriller.
India had just won the world championships of cricket in Melbourne to build on its 1983 World Cup triumph.
April 18, 1986
Pakistan won by one wicket
A match no fan on either side of the border will forget. Pakistan, needing four runs off the last ball to lift the Australasia Cup, sailed through as Javed Miandad pulled a full toss from seamer Chetan Sharma for six.
Instantly, Miandad became a national hero and Sharma was reduced to facing barbs and insults on his return home.
Pakistan dominated India for a long time in their desert duels after that game.
March 1, 2003
India won by six wickets
The World Cup match was as much about India v Pakistan as about Sachin Tendulkar v Shoaib Akhtar. Tendulkar smashed a 75-ball 98 to help his team achieve a stiff 274-run target.
Pakistani fast bowler Akhtar bagged just one wicket, that of Tendulkar, while conceding 72 runs in his 10 overs.
Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar (101) was the only batsman to score a century in the match.
March 13, 2004
India won by five runs
India's first full tour of Pakistan in 15 years began on a rousing note with a thrilling finish in the first one-day international at the jam-packed National Stadium in Karachi.
Set a tough chase of India's 349-7, the hosts rode on a brilliant 122 off 102 balls from skipper Inzamam-ul Haq to make a spirited reply to leave them needing a six off the final ball.
But as Miandad watched from the dressing room as Pakistan's coach, Moin Khan holed out in the deep to hand India a narrow win.
March 2, 2014
Pakistan won by one wicket
The most recent one-day match between the two arch-rivals produced a thriller during the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Pakistan appeared to be cruising when they needed 11 off the last 10 balls with four wickets in hand to overtake India's 245-8.
But three wickets fell quickly and it came down to nine runs off the last four deliveries from Ravichandran Ashwin.
Shahid Afridi showed why he is one of the most destructive batsmen in the game when he smashed the next two balls for sixes to take Pakistan home.
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