The PCA stadium at Mohali would be fortunate hosts for a cracking semifinal between India and Pakistan tomorrow. The ground hardly hosts ODIS, but the last 5 ODIS have been interesting to watch with one of the reasons being that it produces one of the best pitches in the country and the ground has excellent player-friendly facilities.
In a rewind to the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, Australia played New Zealand in the semifinals. In that game, New Zealand won the toss and elected to field first in the hope that there would some dew on offer as Mohali usually does in day-night games. But it boomeranged as Australia won by 34 runs, defending a modest 240 with the Aussie pacers picking up 9 out of the 10 New Zealand wickets.
Incidentally, India played Pakistan in the next game Mohali hosted, almost a year later. The match will be remembered for Sachin Tendulkar getting dismissed for 99, as India went to make a mammoth 321/7 after 50 overs. The match was in India’s hands but the bowlers threw it away with the dew actually favouring Pakistan’s batsmen. Younis Khan made a fine 117 as Pakistan successfully chased down the target with one ball to spare, in a close finish. Indian fans would only hope that there should be no repeat of this tomorrow!
It was in two years time when Mohali got a chance to witness an India match. It was against Australia. Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. Half-centuries from skipper Ricky Ponting and Cameron White took Australia to an under-par 250 in 50 overs. Under the lights, it should have been a cakewalk for the Indian batsmen to chase down this target but they choked. Apart from Sachin Tendulkar’s 40, none of the players were willing to contribute and Australia squared the series 2-2, with a 24-run victory and this proved to be costly for India.
Then in the 2011 World Cup, two group games were played in at the PCA Stadium. South Africa played Netherlands in the first of the two and won convincingly by 231 runs, in what was a day game. The second one was a highly fascinating encounter between West Indies and Ireland which saw the Windies beat the minnows by 44 runs, despite some competitive cricket played by Ireland.
In an interesting pattern, 4 out of the 5 matches have been won by the team batting first. Perhaps, the mantra would be to win the toss and bat first, despite there being chances of dew later in the night. Let us hope to see Mohali produce another thrilling encounter tomorrow!