India v Pakistan: Legends will be made and Pakistan could sneak home

Mohammad Amir Pakistan World Cup
Mohammad Amir has been the best Pakistan bowler by a mile

The most awaited contest and tough to call. For many this game means more than the World Cup. James Buttler picks out bets from a match where heroes will be forged.

"This match is the epitome of cliche - form goes out the window, Pakistan are a big match side and anything can happen. Whatever the result the atmosphere at Old Trafford is going to be sensational."

India v Pakistan
Sunday June 16, 10:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event

Impressive start but this is huge for India

India take on fierce rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday, after the disappointment of a Trent Bridge washout that saw them share the points with New Zealand.

India had previously begun their World Cup campaign with a 21-run win over South Africa and a 36-run defeat of Australia. Now without opener Shikhar Dhawan, probably until the semi-final stage, the spotlight shines firmly on Rohit Sharma and captain Kohli to score the top-order runs. KL Rahul is likely to partner Rohit in the opener role. Kohli made 82 against Australia but it is Rohit who has impressed the most with an unbeaten 122 against the Proteas followed by a similarly impressive 57 against Australia.

With the ball, Yuzvendra Chahal legbreaks have yielded him six wickets as the experienced seam attack of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have taken five wickets apiece. With the bat, Hardik Pandya made a superb 48 to boost India to a winning total of 352 for five against Australia, but his 16 overs have cost 99 runs, the most expensive of any of the Indian attack and he needs to improve to shore up a weak link.

Yuzvendra-Chahal-1280-India.jpg

For Pakistan this is the big one

Pakistan have just one win to their name and it came with their superb win over England at Trent Bridge. That followed a humbling seven-wicket defeat to West Indies. A no result against Sri Lanka and a 41-run loss to Australia followed. Pakistan are hit or miss. The sky is either crashing down or, on their day, they can beat anyone.

With the bat Mohammad Hafeez has made 146 runs with a highest score of 84 against England. Babar Azam (115), captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (103) and Imam ul-Haq (99) have also contributed.

Mohammad Amir has surprised me with his left-arm pace. So prolific when Pakistan won the Champions Trophy, he had gone AWOL in the wicket-taking stakes since. But the selectors took a punt on his big game mentality and he has rewarded them with 10 wickets at an average of 12.30, including a career best 5-30 against Australia. At the time of wriiting he leads the tournamemnt standings for wickets taken.

Form goes out the window

If Pakistan are to repeat their 2017 Champions Trophy success they surely have to beat India on Sunday. Although showers are forecast it would appear a match will take place in Manchester. This match is the epitome of cliche - form goes out the window, Pakistan are a big match side and anything can happen. Whatever the result the atmosphere at Old Trafford is going to be sensational.

The omens are against them with all six World Cup matches all going India's way. The sides have only met once at Old Trafford, the 1999 World Cup, where India won by 47 runs. India have also won four of the last five matches against Pakistam, however the defeat was in the biggest game - the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

And Pakistan's memories of Old Trafford have taken a turn. After losing six Manchester games in a row, Pakistan beat New Zealand there in 1999 and England in 2003. This is a gut-feel and value finding bet. Pakistan at 3.259/4 are way too big in a two horse race of this magnitude.

Pakistan look to Mohammad Amir to open the door

On the basis that runs are spread pretty evenly betwen the Pakistan batsman, it's the bowling markets I am investing in. Mohammad Amir has 10 wickets in three completed games, including a career best.

riaz-amir-pakistan-1280.jpg

He is the man Pakistan will look to to make early inroads and, despite the fact that he has failed to take a wicket in four of his six previous ODIs against India, he has to be the play at 3/1. No other Pakistan bowler has taken more than four wickets - Wahab Riaz four at 41.50 apiece.

King Kohli to break record

Rohit Sharma India World Cup 2019.jpg

The experienced pair of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are crucial to India's chances. They are also in excellent form. Kohli is 57 runs shy of passing 11,000 ODI runs and he will undoubtedly be the fastest ever to that landmark. His next innings will be his 222nd knock and current quickest Sachin Tendulkar got there in his 276th innings. Sharma's form is exceptional however and he is the sensible stake at 3/1 with perhaps a half-stakes nibble on the in-form MS Dhoni at 5/1.

Who will further their own legend?

It's worked already for me in this World Cup. Let's pick out three potential match winners at small stakes to provide entertainment throughout the game. For this one I am taklng Virat Kohli at 6/1, MS Dhoni at 18/1 and Mohammad Amir 20/1.

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Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler P/L CWC19

Units Staked 22.0
Units Returned 26.74
Profit/Loss: +4.74 units

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