Up next are our cricket betting tips for this match and it may surprise you to read that we’re backing Pakistan as outsiders.
But there are good reasons for that.
They include Pakistan’s recent improvement on the head-to-head record, that they have a full squad of players to choose from and that there’s rain around which could help their cause. We’ explain due course why that’s the case.
But there are other reasons, too. And we’ll talk you through all of them.
Recommended Bet: Back Pakistan to win @ 2.6 with BlueChip
If when betting on cricket, you give a lot of importance to head-to-head records, then India are surely the bet for you at 1.55.
As we see below, they’re 8-3 up on the head-to-head which is quite a significant lead over the years.
And if you want further proof that India at least justify favouritism, there’s also the fact that they’re currently ranked the Number 1 side in the world on the ICC rankings, testament to their consistency.
But then again, there are good reasons to ignore all that and go with the outsiders.
For starters, Pakistan may be behind them on the head-to-head but they have now beaten them twice in the last three matches between the two: crucially at last year’s World Cup, then also picking up a win at the recent Asia Cup.
They beat them in the Super 4 stage, although India did admittedly beat them the first time they played them in the tournament.
So it’s actually Pakistan who have had the upper hand over the last year.
And if India are ranked Number 1 in the world, then Pakistan aren’t too far behind at Number 3.
Then there’s the team selection issue.
India, remember, are missing Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja and those are two very big sets of shoes to fill.
Pakistan aren’t missing anyone significant now that Shaheen Shah Afridi is back and ready to play, albeit maybe a little rusty which is understandable for a fast bowler trying to find his rhythm.
So Pakistan can choose their best side, India can’t.
And finally there’s the rain issue (see venue and conditions section).
A shortened match generally gives the outsider a better chance of winning than a full one because the element of randomness comes into it more.
But more to the point, Pakistan winning the toss and being able to chase would make it much closer to a 50/50 match. So it obviously makes sense to go with them at odds of 2.6 rather than India as warm favourites.
Had Pakistan not dropped Matthew Wade in that semi-final last year and they would have been in the final. And if they’d been in the final, they may well have won it.
But we’ll never know.
Since then they’ve played 22 matches, winning 13, which is decent enough.
They thrashed the West Indies 3-0 and also got the better of New Zealand, winning two of the three games they played against them in the recent Tri-Series that also involved Bangladesh.
But they lost a superb 7-match Series 4-3 to England at home and worst of all, lost the Asia Cup final to Sri Lanka. And this despite having the UAE toss bias on their side.
So there’s a bit of a worry that they keep losing the big matches when they’re under the most pressure. Let’s see if that happens here again.
Babar Azam had a bit of a dip in form during the Asia Cup but hit back with three fifties in his last nine T20Is. Mohammad Rizwan has been his usual brilliant consistent self and is now the Number 1 T20I batsman in the world.
Shadab Khan has emerged as a genuine all-rounder with some fine batting displays, as has Mohammad Nawaz who’s been tight with the ball and explosive with the bat.
But the really good news for them is that Shaheen Shah Afridi is fit again after an injury that kept him out of the Asia Cup.
A pace attack of Afridi, Harris Rauf and youngster Naseem Shah could be very potent indeed.
In the India vs Pakistan head-to-head it’s 8-3 to India.
That looks very one-sided but Pakistan have at least been fighting back.
They famously beat India in a World Cup for the first time last year and then it was one-a-piece when they played each other in the Asia Cup in September, India winning the first time round and Pakistan winning the second time round.
But India are still considerably ahead and it will be interesting to see to what extent that may prey on the Pakistan players’ minds.
Venue & conditions
The MCG is one of cricket’s most iconic grounds and until recently, the biggest cricket stadium in the world in terms of number of spectators.
But what about in terms of runs?
Australia played here twice in 2022 against Sri Lanka. In the second of them, Australia posted 154/6 which Sri Lanka chased with just one ball to go. The match before that saw Sri Lanka post just 139/8, which Australia chased with 11 balls to spare.
In fact, that 139 is significant because it’s the exact average first innings score at the MCG. So it’s not a high-scoring ground.
What’s also worth noting is that of the 17 completed T20I matches here, 10 were won by the chasing side. So the early advantage goes to the side bowling first.
But the most important factor of all on the day is rain.
There’s only a 60% chance the match will be completed at all and even if it is, there’s a high chance that there could be a reduction in the number of overs.
If the match is reduced to say 16 overs-a-side then that obviously makes it very hard to predict what a first innings total might be.