India v Pakistan World T20 preview: Hosts in need of victory against fiercest rivals

India meet Pakistan in their second World T20 fixture, with victory essential if they are to harbour hopes of reaching the semi-finals

India v Pakistan World T20 preview: Hosts in need of victory against fiercest rivals
India and Pakistan meet at Eden Gardens (image source: Zee News)

Saturday will see the cricketing world come to a standstill, with the mother of all matches ready to engulf the 2016 World T20

Tournament hosts and favourites India meet their fiercest rivals Pakistan in a Super 10 fixture, which will be watched by billions around the world. 

India's place in the competition is on the line following defeat in their opener against New Zealand, whilst Pakistan are in a position of strength, after toppling Bangladesh in their first match of Super 10 stage.

The atmosphere in Kolkata leading up to and during the game will be incredible, and the pressure on these Indian cricketers will be up there with the highest they will face throughout their careers. 

Fixture to be played at Eden Gardens, following late change

In the lead-up to the tournament, there were fears that this game would never even take place.

Mohammad Amir celebrates against India during Asia Cup (image via: cricinfo)
Mohammad Amir appeals during recent India-Pakistan match (image via: cricinfo)

Pakistan's side were given advice not to travel to the tournament in fear of their safety, yet those fears were duly averted once tournament organisers arranged for the match to be moved from Dharamsala to Eden Gardens in Kolkata

The stadium should be filled to the brim, with the 66,000 seater stadium amongst the best venues to play cricket on the sub-continent. 

This will be just the fifth T20 international to take place at Eden Gardens, with India having to failed to win either of their two matches here previously in the shortest format of the game. 

India in desperate need of victory

The Super 10 stage of this competition opened with a bang on Tuesday, when India were dismissed for just 79 to lose heavily to New Zealand in Nagpur

The defeat will have been a massive wake-up call for the batsmen, who all failed apart from possibly Virat Kohli, who was in desperate need of finding a partner. 

Adjusting to conditions in Kolkata will be crucial if they are to overturn their batting woes from the shock defeat, but there is a reason this side came into the tournament as heavy favourites.

If the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina can fire, alongside Kohli, then there is no doubt that is the most feared batting unit in world cricket. 

The bowling attack did a good job against the Kiwis in general, yet at the end of the day they were outbowled by their opponents. Ravi Ashwin was the most expensive of any spinner on show in Nagpur, and he will be crucial to India's hopes of getting their tournament back on track. 

Afridi and co hoping for Kolkata double 

In contrast to their rivals, things could not have gone much better for Pakistan, who looked strong in all three assets of the game in their win over Bangladesh.

Their total of 201-5 was the highest of the competition to date, with Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez each picking up half-centuries in the process. 

On the bowling front, the recently-returned Mohammad Amir looks even more dangerous than he did before his ban and he leads a stock of left-armers who may be the strongest unit in the competition. 

The man who took all the plaudits from the opening win however, was Shahid Afridi, who produced one of the better all-round performances of recent years.

Coming in at four, the captain turned a par total into an above-par one, smashing four maximums on his way to 49 from 19 deliveries. The innings was Boom Boom's most swashbuckling in an international tournament that we have seen for many a year. 

Then with the ball, Afridi still poses an almighty threat, and he showed that against Bangladesh's top batsmen, picking up the wickets of Tamim Iqbal and Sabbir Rahman

If Afridi can continue the all-round dominance he showed in the opener, then this Pakistan side will be a force to be reckoned with going forward. 

India hoping for repeat of recent Asia Cup triumph

The two sides met in this format less than a month ago during the recent Asia Cup, and it was a low-scoring classic, with India eventually prevailing. 

After being forced to bat first, Pakistan could only muster 83, after they were bowled out in 17.3 overs, with Hardik Pandya claiming three wickets for the Indians. 

In reply, Amir was in incredible form with the ball, knocking over three of the Indian top-order to leave them reeling at 8-3 inside three overs. 

The battle between Kohli's bat and Amir with the ball then ensued, which will hopefully be re-created at some point on Saturday. Kohli eventually came out on top of the mesmurising dual, hitting 49 as the Indians claimed victory by five wickets with four overs to spare.