Pakistan and India, the arch-rivals, are facing off today (Sunday) in one of the most anticipated matches of the ICC World Cup 2019. The two sides have come face to face six times in previous world cups and Pakistan has never walked away the victor.

On paper, India looks a much stronger team, but Pakistan has got the capability to surprise everyone. They have showcased it before against England and who knows what this epic clash is going to throw at cricket lovers. Looking at the key players of both teams, I expect one of the following headlines in the papers on 17th June.

Kohli-stic missile rips through Pakistan

If there is one batsman in limited overs format who can singlehandedly win matches at his own terms, it is Virat Kohli. The Indian run machine, also dubbed as ‘The King Kohli’ for his unprecedented batting performance over the years has specialized the art of chasing big totals. Yes, I remember Champions Trophy 2017 final when he was foxed by Muhammad Amir twice in two balls. However, it doesn’t make him a lesser of a genius. Once he gets going, there is no stopping his crafty touches, powerful drives, delicious cuts and ferocious pulls. If India is to win, a lot depends upon Kohli’s performance, not only as a batsman, but also as a captain.

India gets Zaman-ted

Fakhar Zaman is among the modern-day unorthodox batsmen who don’t believe much in coaching manuals and rely upon their skills, self-belief and raw talent to rattle the opposition. Right at the top, a quick fire 70 odd from this Ex-Navy batsman can lay a foundation for text-book players like Babar Azam to consolidate and get the launching pad ready for final assault. India has experienced how lethal Fakhar Zaman can be and they will come up with a plan against him. However, the unorthodoxy of Zaman gives him an advantage as it’s difficult for opponents to chalk out a plan for the untraditional batsman. Pakistan will be relying heavily upon him to give them a brisk, if not, fiery start in the all-important game.

Bum-Bum-Bumrah has the last hurrah as India beats Pakistan

While heavy bats, short boundaries and usage of two balls has tilted the game into batsmen’s favors so much that 350 has become a gettable total, there is one bowler who knows how to bowl dot balls even when opposition is showering boundaries at the other end. Jasprit Bumrah is unbelievably accurate and cunningly clever. His unusual action helps him deceive batsmen with slower balls while his short run-up surprises them when he bowls 85+ mph. As the game between Pakistan and India is going down to the wire as Pakistan batting second, Jasprit Bumrah is going to be the deciding factor as India looks up to him to squeeze Pakistan with dot balls eventually resulting in wickets.

Amir bosses Indian batting line-up as Pakistan bags two points

Indian batting fire power is concentrated in top three positions. Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli have been making most of the runs for quite some time and whenever top order flops, which doesn’t happen too often, India finds itself in trouble against quality bowling line-up. As per weather predictions, there is a cloud cover (if not the rain, hopefully) at Old Trafford. Such conditions suit Muhammad Amir who is deadly dangerous in seaming conditions. He has all the ability to take care of Indian top order as he has proved it in the past. Amir’s spell during the first power play is very crucial and it can be match defining. If Pakistan gets the top three cheaply, Indian batting line-up will be under pressure and as middle and lower middle order has not been among lot of runs lately, Pakistan will have a very good chance to wrap up India swiftly. If India had batted second, it would have been more crucial as The Blues are masters of chasing. Although, they are way too dependent on top three to chase big totals.

Pakistan-India get one point each in rain-abandoned game

Well, I don’t want to jinx it but there is every possibility that the match may get abandoned due to rain anytime soon. Making things worse is the fact that there is no alternative date for this encounter. Pakistan vs Sri Lanka as well as South Africa vs West Indies, these two games have already got the same fate. Questions are already being raised at the ICC about the timing of the tournament as rain is affecting very important games. Once we get close to final stages of round robin league, some teams will get heavily impacted due to shared points in rain-abandoned games. Let’s hope that isn’t the case today and both teams get a fair shot to add two points to their tally. I won’t mind a tie too; even though it will also result into one point each.

Let's see who wins this time!