Sound bowling options give Pakistan edge
Match factsDecember 28, 2012
Start time 1700 (1130 GMT)
Big PictureA fabled rivalry was renewed after a five-year hiatus with a cracking match in Bangalore. The track wasn't the usual Twenty20 bowler-killing slab, having enough spice to interest the quicks. There were collapses, fightbacks and some heated moments, before Shoaib Malik enhanced his reputation for raising his game against India with a half-century that was topped off by a match-winning six in the final over. Ahmedabad fans will hope for similar thrills, but a different result, on Friday.
The IPL is regularly put forth as one of the reasons for India's Test decline. While that argument has divided opinion, the IPL doesn't seem to have done much to improve India's Twenty20 performances either. Their previous three World Twenty20 campaigns have been lacklustre, and while the batting is more or less settled, no bowler has yet nailed yet his place in the XI. The one spinner who had done that, R Ashwin, was surprisingly left out of the first T20, a move that Mohammad Hafeez suggested helped Pakistan.
In contrast, Pakistan have a plethora of bowling options, with Hafeez playing as a genuine allrounder, and Malik and Shahid Afridi able to contribute with both bat and ball. They also have two of the most successful T20 bowlers in Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, who combined to trigger India's astonishing late-innings slide in Bangalore. The home side's batting needs to find a way to negotiate them, if they are to stand a serious chance of levelling the series.
Form guideIndia LLWWW (Completed games, most recent first)
Players to watchA noisy Chinnaswamy Stadium became even more deafeningly loud when debutant seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball to snake both ways, castling two Pakistan batsmen and having another caught behind. It was not just the swerving deliveries that excited the fans but the manner in which he set up the dismissals. It was a dream start for Bhuvneshwar, but can he repeat the magic or was it a one-off? Ahmedabad will give us a clue.
Another new-ball bowler who didn't just catch the eye but demanded attention with his towering frame was Mohammad Irfan. He was regularly around the 90mph mark, troubling the India batsmen with his pace and bounce. He was much quicker than in his previous international outings - a couple of ODIs against England in 2010 - and drew high praise from Wasim Akram.
Stats and Trivia
- Umar Akmal's zero in the first T20 was the fifth of his career, leaving him one behind four players - including Shahid Afridi - for the most ducks in T20s
- Virat Kohli needs 29 runs to break Martin Guptill's record for the most T20 runs in a calendar year*
"The way we played the last match, our morale is quite high… I will give credit to the bowlers and fielders. They [India] were 70 for no loss and after that we came back. Bowling has always been our strength and in the last match, even after a bad start, the comeback was outstanding. As a captain I am very pleased with that."
Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan captain
"The conditions here are different. The one [pitch] in Bangalore was seaming and over here, it will be slow and offer turn. There is no pressure on us."
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the India medium-pacer
*03.37GMT December 27: The stat had earlier incorrectly included Umar Akmal. This has been changed
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo