As the day for the big match approaches, albeit under a rain threat on Sunday, India is in top form having won two of the three games thus far, losing one to rain and abandonment. Pakistan, on the other hand, have been battling woes of all kinds, besides the weather, and have won only one of the four matches they have played so far in the tournament.
While India defeated Australia summarily at The Oval in their second match, after running all over the struggling South Africans in their opening clash, Pakistan lost to the Australians by 41 runs in the run-up to the clash against India. Skipper Sarfaraz blamed unsupportive and bad fielding for the defeat despite Amir’s fiery fifer.
Add to that, India having history on its side, that of never being defeated by Pakistan in a World Cup event, and Kohli will feel sorted. Though the Old Trafford pitch is known to aid both pace and spin, the overcast conditions and breeze expected on match day will make navigation of the famed Pakistani pace battery a niggle to deal with, especially for the top order which will be missing Shikhar Dhawan. Pakistan, on the other hand, have a much higher quotient of vulnerability with the bat, making the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar forces most likely to join the elements in troubling them.
While the full Pakistani contingent was in the stadium for practice two days ahead of the match, they were forced to train indoors due to constant rain. It was mostly their batsmen padding up for the session. Team India used up the morning half of the day to travel from Nottingham to Manchester and preferred to hit the hotel gym over coming to the Old Trafford, though the sun was out in the afternoon and the rain remained at bay till evening.
As pressure talk goes, its more on Pakistan than on India, with the former staring at yet another step to imminent ouster from the tournament if their bad run continues against India. In any case, a clash against India comes with the highest intensity on both ends, and in the stands, with the chatter off the stadium gaining wings on both sides of the border. Besides the ad battle that India and Pakistan have unofficially launched themselves into, Manchester is expected to bring the stands on fire with the city having both the populations in high and almost equal measure.