India and Pakistan are set to renew their historic rivalry at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Saturday. The edge may have been taken away from the game with India already in the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy with two facile wins against South Africa and West Indies. Pakistan are out of the tournament with two successive defeats.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes the game will not lose any of its intensity. "India versus Pakistan is never a dead rubber," Gavaskar told NDTV. "This match is extremely important for fans of both nations," he added.
"India will want to maintain the momentum they have picked up with their last two victories. They will be desperate not to lose this match, heading in to the semifinals," added Gavaskar.
Gavaskar also predicted England to qualify for the final of the tournament and added that a clash versus India would be a dream. "India versus England is the ideal final. England beat us in India and it would be nice to face them for the ICC Champions Trophy title in their backyard," he said.
India are on a definite high with two comprehensive victories over South Africa and West Indies. Against the Windies, Ravindra Jadeja (Jadeja almost quit spin bowling, reveals coach Debu Mitra) and Shikhar Dhawan were the stars for the Men in Blue. Jadeja took a career-best 5/36 with Dhawan notching his second successive century on-the-trot.
"Jadeja turned the match in India's favour," said Gavaskar. "At a certain stage West Indies were looking to score past 300, but Jadeja turned the match around with his bowling on a pitch where there was not much help for the spinners. Five wickets in a One-Day game is rare..." added Sunny. (Read: Dhoni has backed me: Jadeja)
"India now have a settled combination for the one-day game," said Gavaskar, who added that Shikhar Dhawan has been 'particularly impressive'.
"The openers (Dhawan and Rohit Sharma) have given India attacking starts in this tournament. What's most important to me is the understanding they have with each other."
"I also have to add that this could well be the turning point of Rohit Sharma's career. He is knocking on the door for a Test spot with performances like this," said Gavaskar.