Just another dead rubber? Think again
Saturday, June 15, 2013, Edgbaston
Start time 10.30am (9.30 GMT)
Big PictureThis was supposed to be the marquee clash of the league stage. Tickets for the game were sold out within 30 minutes of being made available online. It isn't a coincidence that the match is scheduled for Saturday primetime viewing in India and Pakistan and could have decided the group. Instead, to the organisers' dismay, we are left with a dead rubber as India have already qualified for the semi-finals and Pakistan are eliminated.
Unlike most dead rubbers though, there's still plenty of interest since it is still an India v Pakistan match. The number of contests between the two sides has decreased over the past few years due to the strained political relations between the two countries, and fans are still eager for any chance to see the great rivals face off.
One of India's proudest one-day records is that they have never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup game, having triumphed in all five encounters. Pakistan have a similarly spotless record against India in the Champions Trophy, though there have only been two clashes between the two sides.
While Pakistan will be looking to extend that run in Birmingham, India will be looking for payback after a stinging defeat in the one-day series at home earlier this year.
In that series, Pakistan showed off the potency of their bowling attack, and India's batsmen were left nonplussed. It will again be a confrontation between Pakistan's bowling might and India's batting strength. This time, MS Dhoni's side have some of the most in-form batsmen around. In contrast, Pakistan's batting has been seriously underwhelming, while India's bowlers, about whom there was much apprehension coming into the tournament, have not done too shabbily thus far.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the SpotlightUmesh Yadav was talked up as a quick bowler who could provide India's bowling with teeth, but though he has been pacy, he has consistently been taken for runs. After 19 ODIs, his career economy is an unflattering 6.32. He has the ability to deliver yorkers, and bowls the slower delivery as well, which means India will continue to look to him to solve the team's death-bowling issues.
Mohammad Hafeez is one of the senior figures in the Pakistan one-day side, and presumably the man who will take over when Misbah-ul-Haq retires. With Pakistan's batting struggling in recent games, Hafeez has also floundered - five of his last seven ODI innings are single-digit scores. He continues to be a handy offspinner, but Pakistan need him to pull his weight in batting as well.
Having already qualified, India have the opportunity to try out some of the others in the squad, but it is unlikely they will make any changes.
India: (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Ishant Sharma
Pakistan also have the liberty to shuffle around their team. The bowling has been functioning well so it doesn't need much tinkering. One of the main questions will be whether Shoaib Malik gets another chance in the middle order. Imran Farhat has also had two failures, and it remains to be seen whether he stays in the side.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Amin, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan
Pitch and conditions
It will be another chilly day in Birmingham, with a predicted maximum temperature of 14C. The forecast also suggests light rain through the afternoon. It hasn't been a run-filled wicket in Edgbaston so far, with a highest total of 269 in three matches. Expect another slow track.
Stats and Trivia
- Malik's last 50-plus ODI score came in the 2009 Champions Trophy, against India
- Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have put on consecutive century stands for the first wicket. Before them, the last time India's openers put on back-to-back hundred partnerships was in 2007
Quotes"Whenever we play each other it's like a final for everybody."
"If their thinking is that the game against India must be won as a consolation prize just because they have not qualified for the semi-finals, they will be in big trouble."
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo