Bangladesh have made Pakistan's job easy as India have dug themselves into a hole. As a result, the first India-Pakistan meeting since the World Cup semi-final in Mohali one year back is now for India a battle to stay alive in the competition. For Pakistan, it's just a dress rehearsal for the final.
Win or lose, India will have to then wait for Bangladesh's match against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.On Sunday it will be a tussle between Pakistan's bowling and India's batting under the header of 'strengths', and India's bowling and Pakistan's middle-order under the header of 'weaknesses'. Even though there was very little differentiating the two under the first header, it is under the second header that current form can give India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni a sleepless night.
Indian bowling failed to defend 290 against Bangladesh on Friday as predicted by the hosts' skipper Mushfiqur Rahim who had foreseen the chink in India's armour and capitalised on it. Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar and comeback man Ashok Dinda were all thrashed to different parts of the park by the minnows of world cricket.
Pakistan on the other hand, will take heart from the fact that after a series of failures against England in the UAE, their middle-order stood their ground in a crucial victory over Sri Lanka here.
Their morale high, Mohammad Hafeez launched the first verbal volley towards India. "I don't believe that Bangladesh caused an upset. Bangladesh's approach is getting positive. This is a very good sign," he said after Bangladesh's third-ever win over India. "I don't know what sort of pressure India will be under, but, I personally feel we are free because we are already in the final and we will have the extra edge," he said. Actually, Pakistan are still not in the final.
If India beat Pakistan with a bonus point and Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka with a bonus point then the two finalists would be decided on net run-rate. But obviously, Pakistan wanted to keep themselves relaxed ahead of the grudge match.
For skipper Misbah-ul Haq, an India-Pakistan match is always a platform for the players. "It could be a dress rehearsal for us, but, players of both teams want to do well in an India-Pakistan match.
People remember a good performance in such matches for a much longer time and over the years India-Pakistan matches have produced so many heroes and villains. So it's always a lot of pressure on the players," Misbah told HT.
ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat and former ICC president Ehsan Mani have already landed in Dhaka and a host of Indian film-stars including Akshay Kumar, Jacqueline Fernandez and Rishi Kapoor are scheduled to be here for Sunday's match, the tickets for which are sold out.