India great Sunil Gavaskar says the pressure will be on Pakistan in Sunday’s highly anticipated World Cup clash between the arch-rivals but believes the weather could play a key role.
Virat Kohli’s India start as favourites in the round-robin match at Old Trafford, with two wins and a no result so far.
Pakistan, led by Sarfaraz Ahmed, are struggling, with just one win — an upset against hosts England — two defeats and a washout.
“It’s a must-win game for them (Pakistan). If they don’t win tomorrow, it’ll be very tough,” Gavaskar wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council.
“The fact it’s an old rivalry means it will be followed closely by the people of both countries, but Pakistan have had a bit of a stumble so far so there’s probably a bit more pressure on them.”
Games between the two countries, who currently only face each other in multi-nation tournaments, are always about more than just what happens on the pitch.
But the threat of rain looms large over the high-profile contest, which is expected to be watched by up to one billion people on TV.
“If it’s a proper 50-overs game I think India have the strength to win,” said Gavaskar, who was part of India’s World Cup-winning squad in 1983.
“But if gets truncated, if it’s a game that gets reduced to 30 overs or less, anything can happen.”
Gavaskar though firmly believes that England remain favourites to win the 50-over showpiece event following their eight-wicket win over the West Indies on Friday.
“My favourites for the last three years have always been England,” said the cricketer-turned-commentator.
“Their opening batting and their bowling attack have been fantastic, but I think more than anything else it’s the leadership they’ve got.”
“The way England have been playing and the way they have recovered after losing to Pakistan doesn’t bode too well for the other teams,” he said.
The Eoin Morgan-led side have won three of their four league games and are third in the 10-team table led by defending champions Australia, who have played five matches.