India vs Pakistan - A battle between two nations
Come Sunday, February 15, 2015, India will start their World Cup campaign against their arch-rivals Pakistan. This will be the 7th time in World Cup history when the two teams will come face to face. India has never lost against Pakistan in a World Cup tournament and going by the records, India looks likely to strech their winning tally to 7-0.
During the last World Cup match between these two teams, the heads of states of both the countries had attended the event – such is the national importance attached to the tie.
Various high profile politicians, diplomats from India, Bollywood stars came to watch the match in the stadium and witness the frenzy this match creates among the people.Such is the level of excitement, enthusiasm among fans ahead of every India Pakistan clash that, people take day off-s from work, postpone all their work and await the match to start. The entire nation comes to standstill whenever these two teams meet.
Frenzy among fans
I remember the last World Cup match between these two teams – it was a weekday and the match was to start at around 12 pm IST. Before this game, there were special arrangements made at various offices, like installing a TV in the cafeteria for employees to see the game.
There was only one topic being discussed at every corner, every street, every home and at every office and that was about the India vs Pakistan cricket match. No one could escape this frenzy and even non-cricket lover people were seen to be talking about this clash and checking the scores.
The match as expected went down to the wire – momentum shifting from one side to another, and eventually India emerging as the winner of the battle. There were some heart-wrenching moments – every time Saeed Ajmal appealed against Sachin Tendulkar, every time Pakistan player dropped Sachin's catches.
That being said, an India vs Pakistan match never disappoints the fans and it gives a sense of satisfaction, pride and happiness to every fan across the globe. The seven matches played till date among these teams had drama, entertainment, intense moments and clashes between players.
Drama, intensity and entertainment
Who can forget the Kiran More-Javed Miandad incident in World Cup 1992, in which Javed Miandad mimicked More by jumping like a frog after the end of an over.
Who can forget Aamir Sohail's warning to Venkatesh Prasad after he hit him for a four and pointed to the boundary, and Prasad retaliating by bowling him out the next ball? It was as if all Indian fans had given back a mouthful to Aamir Sohail.
The classic clash in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa too was full of entertainment. Pakistan had Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar and India had Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Ganguly and Dravid.
The best bowlers were up against best batting lineup. Pakistan batted well to pose a challenging total of 273 and considering the bowling lineup they had, it was always going to be difficult for India to chase it down. Who can forget Sachin Tendulkar's upper cut six off Shoaib Akhtar and Sehwag matching stroke by stroke by hitting the same shot off Waqar Younis.
Sachin played one of his finest innings in that match and missed out on a well deserved century.
Battle of equals
This time, the hype around the match is sky high. Tickets for the match were sold out in first 20 minutes . All eyes will be on the young generation of players from both the teams to carry forward the intense rivalry that is associated with the match. Players like Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad will not hesitate to exchange a few words and throw the stares.
Without their best spinner Saeed Ajmal and talented fast bowler Zunaid Khan, Pakistan fans will be hoping that the new bowlers Rahat Ali, Yasir Shah and tall talisman Mohammad Irfan along with Wahab Riaz will be able to put early pressure on Indian batsmen, who have given a glimpse of a return to form at the right time. Shahid Afridi's quick leg-breaks are ever dependable and his spell is going to be crucial as well.
Shikhar Dhawan has been patchy and inconsistent in the warm up games, but Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina have shown good form by scoring vital runs in the warm ups. All eyes will also be on Virat Kohli who has not been among runs in the limited format. Indian bowling has not been up to the mark on the recent tour and have already faced a lot of criticism.
While batsmen like Younis Khan and captain Misbah Ul Haq make up a solid middle order, they have an attacking but vulnerable opening pair in Ahmed Shehzad and Shehzad Ahmed. Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi provide the much needed attacking mindset at the last stages of the innings.
India lost heavily against Australia in first warm up shaking their confidence, they came back strongly by beating minnows Afghanistan, gaining the much needed momentum ahead of the crucial first game against Pakistan.
Pakistan on the other hand played well to win their first warm up against Bangladesh, in which Mohammad Irfan took 5 wickets and Sohaib Maqsood scored an unbeaten 93 to steer the team to victory.
On paper, the Indian batting lineup looks a bit stronger than Pakistan’s, while Pakistan's bowling line up makes it an even contest.
A great contest is on our hands this Sunday. It won't just be a match between two teams, but a match between two nations. The drama, entertainment, intense pressure to perform and win – not just to win the game, but also the hearts of millions of fans across the globe who will be keeping aside all work, just to witness a high octane game.