Keeping white noise aside, India face Pakistan in the Big Apple  

Even as the two teams prepare for marquee clash, a lot rides on the India-Pakistan match for the tournament as well
For India, it is expected to be the same XI unless there is some last-minute injury. 
For India, it is expected to be the same XI unless there is some last-minute injury. PTI

CHENNAI: The day is finally here. India versus Pakistan. In New York. Since the first warm-up match was played at the new modular venue built for the T20 World Cup in the United States, all the conversation has been about this one match. And how the way the contest goes could have an impact on the success of the tournament.

For starters, there are some merits to it. The pitches at the Nassau County venue have not been ideal, to say the least. The ticket pricing and accessibility has only made it worse. The seats for India-Pakistan started at $300 and went up to $10,000. About 24 hours before the scheduled start of the match, a significant number of tickets were available starting from $2500 to $10,000. And of course all India matches are scheduled for prime-time television viewership in the sub-content; i.e 10.30 AM local time start. However, it might come back and bite the global body considering the weather forecast for Sunday — there is a high chance of rain. Which makes one wonder, despite all the effort from the ICC to make this match a prime success, one will have to wait and see if the contest lives up to the expectation.

On the cricketing front, India have little less to lose going into the contest. They have two points in the bag, and are acclimatised to the conditions. They have been in New York since arriving in the United States. Rohit Sharma and Co. also know enough to be prepared for the unpredictable nature of the surface. Pakistan, on the other hand, flew into the city after their loss against co-hosts USA and will be under the pump more than usual. Another loss, with two matches to go, would make it all the more difficult for the Babar Azam-led side to make it to the Super 8s.

The contest, as it has been the case in the past, could come down to Pakistan pacers and Indian batting. Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi could be a handful against Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and so will Naseem Shah. But then, it will also be crucial for Babar and Mohammad Rizwan to up the ante with the bat. Babar, in particular, will have to step up and be proactive with the bat for Pakistan to set the tone at the top. The spinners, however, will have a limited role considering the conditions in play. It should not come as a surprise if Shadab Khan had little role to play with the ball and Imad Wasim, if fit, will come back into the fray. For India, it is expected to be the same XI unless there is some last-minute injury in the lead-up to the game.

The importance of the clash in the larger scheme of things is undeniable. New York as a venue has been in the news for the wrong reasons, and so has the global body and the tournament itself. However, over the last few days, the World Cup has turned for the better on its head largely thanks to the associate nations. USA beating Pakistan, Scotland ranking up victories, Canada outperforming Ireland has rejuvenated the interest in the tournament and justifying the expansion of the event. All the ICC needs now is an enthralling contest between two arch-subcontinental rivals to set the tournament alive and take it from there. Whether it will happen, we will have the answer by Sunday night.

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