The UAE lost a high-scoring thriller in their final warm-up match against Afghanistan by 14 runs, but one could sense the surging confidence in the side as they leave for Nelson in New Zealand to take on Zimbabwe in their opening Cricket World Cup tie.
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Batting first at the Junction Oval in St Kilda, the ground where Australian spin legend Shane Warne honed his skills, Afghanistan made 308-9 in their 50 overs. In reply, veteran Khurram Khan once again top-scored for the UAE with an 86 (108m, 73 balls), but the team was bowled out for 294 in the penultimate over.
Mohammad Tauqir’s men had Afghanistan on the mat mid-way through the first innings when they reduced them to 109-4 in the 25th over, but leaked 199 runs in the remaining 25 overs.
It must be said that because it was a practice match, both teams could have played their entire squad in the match, and while UAE stuck to their eleven, Afghanistan decided to give remaining batsmen in the squad a chance even when more than half the side was dismissed.
Similarly, while bowling, they used all their eight main bowlers.
Chasing a target of 309 was always going to be difficult, but the UAE batsmen made a spirited attempt, before their plans were ruined by an impending thunderstorm.
It started drizzling around the 35th over mark, which changed the mindset of the UAE batsmen as they started looking at the Duckworth-Lewis target, rather than concentrate on the score they were chasing. The storm never arrived and it only started raining moments after the last UAE wicket fell.
UAE coach Aaqib Javed was delighted with the effort of his batsmen, especially after the debacle against the mighty Australia on Wednesday.
“I think the boys did a brilliant job of chasing such a high score. Khurram obviously was magnificent and he really is the fulcrum of our batting. I am glad he is in such a good form, because he is essential for others to rally around him,” said Javed.
“But all the top-order batsmen looked good out there, which is even more pleasing.
“I do not bother about this result, because this is a practice match and Afghanistan used the strategy of giving all their batsmen a chance. We should have bowled the last 10-15 overs better, but that’s always going to be a challenge under the playing conditions of this World Cup with four players only permitted outside the circle in non-Powerplay overs.
“I think the team batting first will always have the advantage if they put up a good total. But that’s the rule for both sides, and obviously, we will have to adapt.”
That’s a killer blow. Khurram finally goes – LBW to Aftab Alam for 86 runs, 108m and 73 balls. Superb knock!! UAE 5-241 @Sport_360
— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyOfCricket) February 13, 2015
The UAE squad leaves today for Nelson, where they play their first match of the World Cup against Zimbabwe on February 19.
Emotions, pressure and rivalry go hand-in-hand when India and Pakistan lock-horns at the biggest stage in cricket.
An Indo-Pak cricket match is no less than a war but instead of guns and tanks, 22 players will battle it out with bat and ball to win at any cost and World Cup organisers expect it to be the most-watched match in the history of the game, with more than a billion viewers across the globe.
A nail-biting encounter is on the cards when these two rivals begin their World Cup campaign against each other at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday, February 15. For India, defending their World Cup crown might prove to be a monumental task having gone winless since early December, while Pakistan will have only one thing in mind – beat India at the World Cup and break that jinx which has been haunting them since 1992. India has managed to beat Pakistan in five out of the last six World Cup editions.
Meanwhile, as fans wait to watch their stars clash in the most-anticipated game of the 2015 World Cup, both teams have been dealing with issues over form and fitness. India lost their most experienced quick Ishant Sharma due a knee injury while Pakistan’s all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who was ruled out of the tournament with a calf strain, is the second player to depart after bowler Junaid Khan pulled out with a hamstring injury.Both sides enter the fixture with issues over form, with India still reeling from their horrific series Down Under and Pakistan’s 2-0 series loss against co-hosts New Zealand. Moreover, Pakistan have lost 12 out of their last 18 games in the last 12 months, including 16 matches in the sub-continent.
Apart from those 5 World Cup matches, India’s record against their rivals is comparatively poor. Pakistan has enjoyed a greater number of wins even on Indian soil since they first played an ODI in 1974. However, India’s record is slightly better when considering matches played in Pakistan and other neutral venues. Their last meeting went down to the wire when they clashed at Mirpur during the Asia Cup in March 2014, Pakistan ending up winning with just 2 balls to spare thanks to Shahid Afridi’s late blitz of 34 from 18 balls.
India's record against Pakistan
|Venue||Matches||Won||Lost||Tied||N/R||W/L Ratio||World Cup|
|Away & Neutral||96||39||53||0||0||0.735||1996|
However, in matches played outside Asia, India has 14 wins to their name but have lost the same number of games and they lead by a single win when the two giants have clashed in Australia. But in their last 4 games played Down Under in January 2000, India suffered 3 losses and registered only a single win at the Adelaide Oval, the same venue for their upcoming match.
India's record against Pakistan outside of Asia
|Venue||Matches||Won||Lost||N/R||W/L Ratio||W/L Ratio||World Cup|
Pakistani bowlers will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they won’t have to bowl at the Master Blaster on Sunday. Tendulkar, who featured in all five of the previous World Cup matches between the two sides, proved to be a vital cog on at least four occasions. In 1992, Tendulkar top-scored with an unbeaten 54 and also claimed the crucial wicket of opener Aamer Sohail in India’s 43-run win in Sydney. Four years later Tendulkar scored 31 in the quarter-finals in Bangalore, which India won by 39 runs, and his tally of 45 helped India win by 47 runs at Old Trafford in 1999.
Tendulkar showed no mercy towards speedster Shoaib Akhtar as he scored a 75-ball 98 at the Centurion in 2003. Chasing 274, India lost Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly in the space of 2 balls but Tendulkar, along with Mohammed Kaif, stitched a match-winning partnership of 102 as India won by 6 wickets. During the 2011 semi-final at Mohali, Tendulkar top-scored yet again after being dropped four times and surviving two reviews.
Tendulkar vs Pakistan in World Cup matches since 1992
|Runs||Balls Faced||Strike Rate||Dismissal||4s||6s||Ground||World Cup|
India’s top run-scorers against Pakistan in ODIs
|Player||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||6s||Ground||World Cup|
Pakistan have nothing to lose this time around and will go all guns blazing to avenge their defeats on the world's biggest stage. India on the other hand, could succumb to added pressure thanks to their recent debacle Down Under, plus their World Champions tag may well prove a hindrance. Lack of strength in depth has forced Dhoni and team management to include unproven players and their top-order's vulnerability to bouncers and short-pitched deliveries is an added advantage for Pakistan’s pace attack.
Despite the team’s poor form and past statistics, the atmosphere has always been electrifying at the start and nerve wracking towards the end. This being the opening game, both teams will be gearing for a win to carry that momentum and confidence for the rest of the tournament. The hype surrounding the game is unimaginable with tickets sold out in minutes and no matter what, one can expect fireworks both on and off the field.
Cricket World Cup 2015 kicks off in just one day in Australia; Sport360 takes a look at the magic behind the number '1', remembering Lance Klusener's infamous final over in 1999.
South African all-rounder Lance Klusener dreamt of glory at the 1999 World Cup and as he led his country through to the semi-finals, he blew away everyone who crossed his path.
It finally looked like South Africa would realise their dream of becoming world champions and shed the 'chokers' tag that has followed them into each and every World Cup.
Against Australia in the last four, South Africa were 205-9, needing nine runs in last over to progress to the final. Klusener smashed Damien Fleming to consecutive boundaries off the first two balls and only one was required from four deliveries.
A final beckoned with just a solitary single standing in their way of a showdown for the World Cup trophy.
But the pressure got the better of the master blaster Klusener.
He blocked the third delivery and ran wildly on the fourth ball only for his partner Allan Donald to turn bemused, clueless of what was going on at the other end. Donald dropped his bat and was run-out by some distance, sending Australia on to the final, which they eventually won.
South Africa have not had a better opportunity to clinch World Cup glory since then and while they have continued to fall short, Australia started the greatest era of dominance ODI cricket has seen.
That can be the importance of one run, one moment, one ball, one wicket – hopefully there will be more dramatic moments to come in this year’s World Cup.
SPORT 360's CRICKET WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN
– 2 days to go: World Cup captains come in pairs
– 3 days to go: Lasith Malinga's treble hat-trick
– 4 days to go: Australia's era of dominance
– 5 days to go: Ricky Ponting rocks the biggest stage
– 6 days to go: Tendulkar and Miandad's immortal sextuplet
– 7 days to go: Taylor sends Shoaib Akhtar off in style
– 8 days to go: Zimbabwe's record eight-wicket stand
– 9 days to go: Crazy nines from World Cup minnows
– 10 days to go: Chris Old's record still new
– 11 days to go: Viv Richards wins it for West Indies
– 12 days to go: The support from outside the rope
– 13 days to go: O'Brien storm blows England away
– 14 days to go: Arvinda de Silva in world of his own
– 15 days to go: Australia bamboozle the Namibians
– 16 days to go: New format catches out India, Pakistan
– 17 days to go: Madan Lal’s 17 wickets help India to triumph
– 18 days to go: Dennis delight at first World Cup century
– 19 days to go: Economical Imran Khan of Pakistan
– 20 days to go: Bichel cleans up against England
– 21 days to go: Sachin Tendulkar the runs machine
– 22 days to go: The unwanted record of Nathan Astle
– 23 days to go: Nehra rattles England in South Africa
– 24 days to go: The great Kapil Dev's strike rate for India
– 25 days to go: Australia's Invincibles dominate for eight
– 26 days to go: Glenn McGrath's wicket-taking exploits
– 27 days to go: Zaheer Khan's striking ability
– 28 days to go: Herschelle Gibbs just loves sixes
– 29 days to go: Australia's 29-ball haul destroys India