Shahid Afridi smashed 19-ball 49 in Pakistan's World T20's opening match against Bangladesh     AFP
Shahid Afridi smashed 19-ball 49 in Pakistan’s World T20’s opening match against Bangladesh AFP

India vs Pakistan, the very sound of that match-up sends a chill down the spine. Regardless of field, be it sport, politically charged conflict, or even an academic comparison, the mention of these two neighbours with a versus separating their names emanates sense of a fierce contest. The rivalry has its roots in the tumultuous political backgrounds of the two countries. Thankfully, the manifestations of these differences have largely been contained to the cricket field of late. A clash between these teams in a World event adds that much more spice to the contest. It will be no different when the sides set foot on the charged up surfaces of Eden Gardens for their T20 World Cup clash on Saturday. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Pakistan, ICC T20 World Cup 2016, Match 19 at Kolkata

Pakistan have done no justice to their tag of fierce rivals to India, in World Cup games. It is by now one of the better known facts that Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup game. Don t be surprised if even a Peruvian shows knowledge on the subject, whilst still confusing cricket for an insect.

After years of agony in the 50-over editions of various World Cups, Pakistan came close to breaking the jinx twice in the very first edition of the T20 World Cup, in 2007. On both occasions, the second being the final, India won the incredibly close games.

In 50-over World Cups, India have consigned Pakistan to this repeated ignominy on six separate occasions. While in World T20s, that number stands at 4-0 (one game was tied, but India won the subsequent super over). In all, 10 times Pakistan have looked to upstage India in the most prized competition of them all, and 10 times they have failed.

If there is one player who knows that suffering more than anyone else, it is the 36-year-everyoung, now Pakistan skipper, Shahid Afridi. He shares an intimate bond with the dubious record, since he has been part of all, but two of those Pakistan teams that lost to India, including a 4/4 in the shortest format. Needless to say, he ll be the most desperate to break the undesirable pattern. READ: India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup 2016, Match 19 at Kolkata: Can Pakistan break their curse?

But what chance do Pakistan have? India are ferocious lions in their own den. It is true that they were tamed by the perennially underrated New Zealanders in the previous game, but this is no longer an Indian side that allows one defeat to bog them down and break their spirit. If anything that is only likely to spur them on. A viciously vociferous Eden Gardens crowd will eke them on, and the sight of old rivals will set the adrenaline pumping to alarming rates.

Man-to-man, Pakistan s team is at least marginally inferior to India. The game being played in India, this disparity is likely to be widened. However, the impulsive, rapid nature of the T20 format means that it is relatively easy to overcome these marginal shortcomings and defeat the underdog tags.

Their dominant win over Bangladesh in their first game of the tournament, at the same venue, earned them some lost respect following the Asia Cup debacle. The lot of unpredictable players was led heroically by their unpredictable skipper into a resounding win. Afridi was the star of the match. He bludgeoned a 19-ball 49 to power Pakistan past 200, before delivering figures 4-027-2 to seal Bangladesh s fate.

Could this be an indicator of a return to form for Afridi? No, the concept of form is far lost on Afridi. He comes out each game with a fresh mindset, and the happenings of the previous game seldom seem to have a tangible bearing on his performances in the next. If he does perform well, it will be just another one-off, co-incidentally stringed with another similar one-off. Likewise if he fails, it will be another one-off.

Typically when Afridi is in his groove, he becomes an indomitable, undefeatable beast. His shots acquire greater physical power and timing; his deliveries become magic-touched. His sensibilities are sharpened. He then propels his team, almost invariably to an emphatic victory.

So who does Afridi turn to in a bid to undo Pakistan s World Cup jinx? It will have to be his own unpredictability s brighter side.

(Rishad D Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)