It was probably the 2003 World Cup that India's unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cups first gained considerable attention. Since then, just like Undertaker's matches at Wrestlemania, India vs Pakistan games have been about the 'streak.' In 2003, the brilliance of Sachin undid Pakistan after a good batting show by them. In 2007, the two teams got knocked out in the very first round without facing each other. 2011 saw both sides fighting it out in the semi-final where India were clearly the better side. In 2015, everyone expected India to win and they did precisely that without much fuss.
And here we go again! India face Pakistan for the seventh time in a World Cup match and the same question is being asked again: Will Pakistan finally get over their India jinx? It does have the feeling of a jinx. In 1992, Pakistan finished the tournament as champions but still got beaten by India in the early stages of the event. Same thing happened in 1999. India had a forgettable time in this edition while Pakistan reached the final, still the India-Pakistan match went in favour of India.
Is it going to be any different this time? Is Pakistan, who suffered two defeats at the hands of India in last year's Asia Cup likely to be any different this time around? Well, there are good reasons to believe they can turn things around in this edition of the World Cup. It's not just a question of law of averages but the presence of some truly quality players that gives Pakistan a great opportunity. Let's look at this and other reasons why Pakistan have a shot at breaking the streak of wins by India.
Presence of two quality young batsmen
The Pakistan batting order is looking quite impressive due to the presence of two highly competitive and impressive young batsmen in the top-7. Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq are the future of Pakistans's batting. The talent two of them possess is immense. While Imam is an elegant timer of the ball, Babar's array of strokes is dazzling. Both are also unscarred by losses to India in World Cups. If these two get going and are able to get over the butterflies in the stomach, we could be in for a great contest.
India's over-reliance on top-order
India's batting line-up is studded with big players, but the side has been a bit too dependent on its top-3 over the last few years. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are among the best batsmen in the world. Dhawan is already out of the next match. If Kohli and Rohit don't fire, Pakistan, with their capable bowlers, may well test out the vulnerable middle-order.
Good form of Pakistan pacers
Coming into the World Cup, Pakistan had serious concerns about their bowling attack. But with the start of this tournament, they seem to have retreated. Mohammad Amir is back to his best and bowled beautifully against Australia. Wahab Riaz may be expensive but he is showing the aggression and wicket-taking ability that characterises him. Shaheen Afridi too, made a good comeback against Australia after being targeted early on. The fact that the pacers have shown the ability to recover from early reverses also bodes well for their team. This is something India will have to contend with.
Lack of expectations
Unlike previous editions, Pakistan team, this time, isn't wilting under the pressure of expectations going into this match. Their poor record against India and lack of form recently means that very few people expect them to win. This may allow the players to play with freedom and express themselves. That may just be what Pakistan needs.