Adelaide, Feb 14: Plagued by injuries and inconsistent performances, a jittery India will begin their title defence, taking inspiration from history when they lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in what promises to be a high voltage opening round clash of the ICC Cricket World Cup, here tomorrow.
India have an overwhelming 5-0 record in the 50-over World Cup since the two teams were first pitted against each other at the ICC event in the 1992 edition in Sydney. MS Dhoni and his boys would like to retain their supremacy on a 'Super Sunday'. (What did Dhoni say?)
It's a match that ICC expects to be a full-house affair, considering that close to 20,000 Indians have already descended in Adelaide, especially for this match. It's a match which both teams as usual would be desperate to win in order to start the mega event on the right note.
A defeat at the onset and that too against Pakistan is something Dhoni can ill-afford after his team's shoddy performance throughout the Australian summer.
Inconsistencies and lack of runs from his deputy and batting mainstay Virat Kohli, a bowling attack that couldn't even get 10 Afghanistan wickets in a practice match and fitness issues of some key players would certainly be reasons for worry as far as Dhoni is concerned.
While Dhoni's calm exterior would give away very little about what he feels, a Pakistan match has always brought the best out of India even when they have been in the dumps.
For the record, the 1992 edition in Australia, the 1999 edition England were two occasions when Indians played poor cricket for the better part but found their mojo against the arch-rivals, defeating them convincingly.
Therefore, an India team battered and bruised by the Aussies is not a parameter to judge how they would fare against Pakistan in a World Cup match.
Whether it's Sachin Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja or a Venkatesh Prasad, India have somehow always found that one individual, who has risen to the occasions despite the chips being down.
A Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane or even skipper Dhoni himself is capable of changing the complexion of a match in individual capacity.
Stuart Binny has given his all in limited chances he has Stuart Binny has given his all in limited chances he has got but his ability to win matches against big teams is still an unchartered territory. Among the spinners, both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have the same skill set, although Jadeja looks better equipped as far as batting is concerned.
For Pakistan, the veterans Misbah, Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi will be the key players along with talented Umar Akmal and the in-form Sohaib Maqsood. Their pace attack led by left-arm seam duo of Wahab Riaz and 7 feet tall Mohammed Irfan can prove to be a handful on a given day.
Riaz in particular would like to get another five-for like 2011 semi-final in Mohali. Only he would want the result to change, even if there's a one less in the wickets column for him.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami.
Pakistan: Misbah ul Haq (captain), Shahid Afridi, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Haris Sohail, Sohaib Maqsood, Ehsan Adil, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Mohammed Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Rahat Ali.
Match starts at 9.00 AM IST