Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board
Billions of cricket fans across the globe will be glued to their televisions and nearly 30,000 spectators will be inside the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday to witness Pakistan open their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign against India. The match between the two former champions will commence at 7pm PKT.
India won the inaugural tournament in 2007 at The Wanderers in Johannesburg, beating Pakistan by five runs, before Pakistan lifted the trophy in 2009 at Lord’s, defeating Sri Lanka by eight wickets.
Pakistan and India first met in T20 format in the ICC T20 World Cup 2007 in Durban, which India won in Bowl-Out after both the sides ended up on 141 runs each. Since, the two sides have played each other four more times – including the 2007 edition’s final – in the T20 World Cup.
After Sunday’s fixture, Pakistan will play New Zealand on Tuesday, Afghanistan on Friday, while their next week’s matches will be against Namibia on 2 November and Scotland on 7 November.
On the ICC T20I Rankings, India is ranked second and Pakistan third, just five points behind. New Zealand, Pakistan’s opponent on Tuesday, is fourth on 257 points.
Apart from mission of beating India for the first time in the ICC T20 World Cup, the other incentive for Pakistan will be their victory will narrow the gap between the two sides to one point with India dropping to 264 points and Pakistan rising to 263 points. A win on Tuesday over New Zealand will potentially put Pakistan in second place on the ICC T20 Team Rankings.
On the ICC T20I Player Rankings, Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan feature inside the top-10 in second and seventh positions, respectively, while India’s Virat Kohli is his side’s highest-ranked batter in fourth spot.
A strong and winning performance by Babar will potentially put him ahead of Dawid Malan of England in number-one position as the Pakistan captain enters the tournament trailing 22 points.
Neither bowler from Pakistan or India feature in the top-10 rankings, but India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar is just outside the top-10 in 11th position, trailing New Zealand’s Tim Southee by 11 points.
The two sides will go toe to toe after competing in cut-throat domestic events. Pakistan’s World Cup-bound players participated in the National T20 after New Zealand and England withdrew their sides from the bilateral series, while the India players were involved in their franchise competition that concluded on 15 October.
From 2009 till 2019, when Test cricket returned to Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates was Pakistan’s home ground.
In this period, Pakistan peaked to No.1 in T20I Team Rankings after winning 21 out of 36 T20Is with 13 loses and two tied matches.