The Whole Reason For The World Cup – India v Pakistan (Match 22)

“The biggest game in sport” I’ve been told. This is a qualifying pool game between one of the better teams and one who has a chance of making the semis. In the context of the World Cup, it will determine if there is a team that has a fighting chance of getting into the top four, or if the last 23 games (I think) will be a procession before the predicted four make it to the knockout phase. As you can probably tell, I’m not in the slightest bit excited for the game. It’s just another fixture between two countries who don’t particularly like each other, whose politicians interfere too much in sport, whose requirement to meet means they always do draw each other in ICC competitions even before round-robin formats.

They met in the Champions Trophy final back in 2017, but no-one in India talks about that. Since that day, India have marched on relentlessly, led by their ton machine captain, Virat Kohli, while MS Dhoni ascends to beyond god-like status, Jasprit Bumrah is now the greatest Indian one-day bowler ever (do they remember Roger Binny? Joke), and Rohit Sharma still can’t beat Ally Brown’s record. Pakistan have gone backwards, and are now a living breathing cliche. Any win against the top 4 will be greeted with “same old unpredictable Pakistan”. Just as it did when they beat England.

In many ways, though, today is special because of the one thing sporting governing authorities hate. If they had their way, India would be playing Pakistan home and away every year, to fill in the space between the IPL. It’s a mixture of sporting rivalry, political clashes and local pride (and pride barely does it justice). Today is special because they don’t play each other. Because less is absolutely more. That’s why there is such focus on the weather forecast. That’s why 700,000 applied for tickets at the inadequate Old Trafford (I’ll bet the authorities wished they could have played it at the other OT, or the Olympic Stadium). This is that rare thing – a local rivalry that’s played infrequently. Maybe this is why it is the biggest game in sport….today.

India are unbeaten and on 5 points, while Pakistan are currently second from bottom on 3 points and with a net run rate destroyed by their loss to West Indies. A win puts Pakistan level on points having played a game more, a loss means England move down into 4th, on 6 points, and three clear of 5th. The halfway point of the group phase will see the split we probably expected. India are clear favourites today.

Yesterday’s games provided some drama, but in the end, not a lot. Australia got a strange start, rode a massive innings from Finch to set up what could have been a monster score, but then faded badly to “just” make 334. This looked less formidable when the Sri Lankans got off to a great start, but Karunaratne clammed up as he approached a century, the rest of the team caught the hesitancy bug, and the game faded away badly. Starc took his share of wickets again, but one was left with a bit of a void. A close finish wasn’t on the cards.

In yesterday’s other game, South Africa skittled out Afghanistan, with a monumental collapse after one of the rain breaks. The man who runs 50 yards after every wicket, no matter the circumstance (and it looks plain stupid with the World Cup South Africa have had) took some more. Then South Africa decided a crawl to the target was better than improving the net run rate, so Amla had a net, DeKock actually tried to score at better than test rate, and the win was achieved in just shy of 30 overs. England took 27 balls more to chase down 212 the other day.

I had a little say on Afghanistan’s loss and what it means for expansion – nothing really, because money drives everything – but those avid proponents of the 14 or 16 team tournaments did not have a good day. It is also really disappointing to see how Afghanistan have fared. I know the circumstances need to be taken into account, as these conditions are as alien as could be for them, but the horrible fact is that the authorities will never let 2007 happen again, that 2011 and 2015 formats produced too little excitement for the ICC, and TV money drives this. They have a hook to hang it on with Afghanistan’s showing. It’s probably going to be the longest standing consequence of this tournament.

Pakistan have won the toss and have elected to bowl.

Enjoy the game, comments below.


22 thoughts on “The Whole Reason For The World Cup – India v Pakistan (Match 22)

  1. Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 10:22 am

    If you look at this weeks up coming matches

    Eng vs Afg
    NZ vs SA
    Aus vs Bang
    Eng vs Sri lan
    Afg vs India
    NZ vs Wi

    By next Sunday the table could look like this.

    1 NZ played 6. 11 points
    2 Aus played 6. 10 points
    3 ENg played 6. 10 points
    4 India played 4. 7 points

    Pretty much game over. Which means that these games….Are almost all irrelevant!

    India Vs England
    England vs Aus
    England Vs NZ
    Aus Vs NZ

    Which Moron created this fixture list? They have tried to leave all the big games to the end, but it may be pointless by then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 10:57 am

      Slight mistake. If India win today of course, and against Afg then they will have 9 points not 7.

      So the top 4 will be even more settled by next weekend.

      Perhaps we should have best of three semi finals, and a best of 5 final?


  2. dlpthomas Jun 16, 2019 / 10:39 am

    India on target for a very big score and I suspect the game is already over.


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 16, 2019 / 10:55 am

      It has that feeling, doesn’t it?

      A feeling of foreboding, amplified by ICC listening to its audience and sticking Michael Clarke on the commentary. A view shared…

      Liked by 1 person

      • psoans Jun 16, 2019 / 1:12 pm

        Not sure why they were commenting would have loved to see Ganguly comment with Isa Guha.


        • LordCanisLupus Jun 16, 2019 / 1:28 pm

          For “fairness” I assume there are two Indian – Manjrekar and Ganguly – and two Pakistani – Akram and Ramiz. There is a third in the ICC rotation from India (Harsha), but not the case for Pakistan, so I suppose they want even numbers. Then you get the two other reps from the Big 3 as it is a big game (Nasser and Clarke). That’s my thinking.


      • dlpthomas Jun 16, 2019 / 1:53 pm

        Amir doing his best to make me eat my words.


      • Deep Purple Fred Jun 16, 2019 / 1:54 pm

        Can only add my voice to the chorus re Clarke. Too many words, not enough meaning.
        He seems astounded that there are alot of people at an Ind vs Pak game. Also alot are wearing blue shirts and alot are wearing green.

        God, what a powerhouse India have become.


  3. psoans Jun 16, 2019 / 12:01 pm

    I am a person of Indian origin. I support England. The thing which people don’t understand about an India v Pakistan match is that these are two countries have been at war technically since the time of their independence. The ruling party won the recent election by emphasising their victory in the 2019 Pulwama incident.
    I love The Ashes. The history, quality and excitement is absolutely great and I cannot wait for the 2019 series. Even this rivalry pales to an India and Pakistan series. People literally die of heart attacks while watching these games. These games have the power to bring countries to a standstill and kill or build careers.
    The golden rule until 2011 was that a tournament can be lost as long as games against Pakistan was won. I do not think this will ever change. I also have to add that I do not believe that the World Test Championship can be completely relevant until Pakistan and India play each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 2:09 pm

      The great former Liverpool football manger Bill Shankley once remarked that football was more important than life or death. It was a great sporting line, everybody knew what he meant, but in reality complete bullshit. Anyone who has ever lost a family member or loved one knows this .

      Sport is supposed to be many things, but not bigger than live or death. John Arlott once said that he was worried that we were taking sport too seriously, and life not so much.

      I don’t think anyone doubts that passion on both sides, It’s good to see. However, paradoxically its also problematic. Because the desperation to win by both sides reveals a bigger problem. You can solve a cricket contest but a war? That is about politics, and nationalism and religion. Those are almost unsolvable. So instead each side treasures a victory over the other on a sports field as consolation for bigger, unsolvable problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      • psoans Jun 16, 2019 / 5:09 pm

        I completely agree with this and even wrote a post on this. Politics and Cricket should not mix. In Mumbai the Hindu parties threaten to destroy the pitch if Pakistan plays there. There is also the issue of people of Pakistani origin having problems of getting a sports visa to play in India. I like the way India and Pakistan have played the game today. They have been chatting away and smiling too.
        My Father in Law fought in two of the Indo-Pak wars. Some of the stories he said were horrific. Some of the other stories though were of Indian and Pakistani sharing food during the ceasefire.


  4. Metatone Jun 16, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    Left arm leg spin seems pretty useful…


    • Metatone Jun 16, 2019 / 4:29 pm

      wrist spin, I should say


  5. Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 4:33 pm

    Pakistan have been chugging along at five an over with just one wicket down. Then they lose a couple of quick wickets and they are up the creek without a paddle.

    And as I write another wicket gone. Four down, and only 9 an over for the next 23 overs.

    Should be straight forward.


    • Metatone Jun 16, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      I have a theory that when you’re chasing on these pitches (as opposed to setting a target) starting slow and then accelerating might not be the best approach, because it’s really hard for players to ignore how the Req Run Rate is going up and up and beyond normality.

      Better to go like SL did and try and get a fast start.
      (Of course you need a good enough/long enough lineup to be able to sustain it… but that happens the other way around too, as we’re seeing…)


      • Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 5:03 pm

        I agree. The commentator said at the start of the innings that wickets in hand were the key and not to go mad at the beginning. But I’m not sure that works either when you are chasing nearly 7 an over from the start.

        I think because teams can chase down 180-200 in a 20/20 game they think they can catch up later.

        6 an over for the first 20 overs gets you 120ish . That leaves 220 off 30 overs. Which is two blocks of 110 off 90 balls.

        Any more and you are going to struggle.


        • Metatone Jun 16, 2019 / 5:26 pm

          ~Good points. (It seems I can’t make the “Like” button work.)


        • quebecer Jun 17, 2019 / 7:18 pm

          It’s strange to be able to type this, but England are the study in how to chase big scores over the last few years and it always struck me that the innings was split into the first 30ish overs and the last 20ish. All of England’s successful chases (of big scores) have been set up by one of the openers going mental early on, and then numbers 4/5/6 on down to take on the last 20.

          I think the issue with approaching it as a steady 7/8 an over chase is that while you can keep up wit that during partnerships, as soon as a wicket falls and especially when there are two newish batsmen at the crease) you immediately fall behind that rate. pressure to hit then mounts, you lose another wicket, and the same thing happens again.

          It’s a changing times thing. Being up with te run rate is ok if you’re chasing 300, but it makes it bloody hard if you’re chasing more than that. The need for a new strategy for changing times seems a reasonable conclusion to draw.


  6. dArthez Jun 16, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    Another complete dud. I am waiting for Dave Richardson’s assessment that the World Cup should be contested by 2 teams, to avoid one sided massacres which aptly describes about 80% of the games this world Cup.

    Best of 27 between India and whoever is better between England and Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jun 16, 2019 / 6:53 pm

      The irony is that the game was won on Duckworth Lewis so Pakistan should at least have tried to be up with the rate with weather about. That was surely the reason for batting second? They still lost by 89 on D/l with ten overs left.

      On the bigger point, I don’t know what the answer is. Back to group stages, and then best of three semi finals, and best of five final? I don’t know.

      The problem is the difference in class between the top sides and the rest.

      Never mind, I’m sure 16.4 will solve everything


  7. Quebecer Jun 16, 2019 / 6:57 pm

    Can’t help feeling the not decent game so far has been Pakistan v England.


  8. JC Jun 17, 2019 / 12:10 am

    The point about this fixture is that it isn’t conducted with actual artillery.
    The value of the common ground which Cricket represents on the sub-continent is inestimable, and that’s something which Cricket can be genuinely proud of.


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