India versus Pakistan is not just another match, it's an event that has the capability to dramatically amplify things, be it pressure and excitement, or the advertisement outlay and the revenues of the ICC. It is the mother of all rivalries, on account of the numerous non-sport factors associated with it.
With the political tensions rising between the two nations, these games have become rarer, and far more intense for the fans, as they now have to wait for multinational tournaments to witness the clash of the arch-rivals.
One such occasion came on the 16th of June when the eternal rivals locked horns at the iconic stadium of Old Trafford in Manchester, a venue which had already been witness to a classic World Cup encounter between these sides two decades ago.
The atmosphere was intense if you were associated with a side on either part of the border. Every shot and wicket by one's own side was grandly celebrated, while a similar act by the opponent evoked mixed responses of anxiety and exasperation. At the end of it, it was India, who, similarly to the past 6 occasions, managed to hand a thumping defeat to the arch-rivals. The victory was celebrated like a festival all over the nation as if the blue brigade had already won the World Cup. However, it evoked agitated responses in the neighbouring country, for whom the loss was no less than derision.
While the match was truly cherished by the fans, its conclusion also brought about a sense of dejection, of having to wait for another multinational tournament to witness this classic thriller. However, with the World Cup nearing its business end, there is a slender chance for this high voltage clash to materialize again, and at the same venue which has already been host to the iconic clash twice.
The first semi-final of the World Cup, that would be played on 9th July between the sides placed first and fourth on the table would be held in Manchester. An India versus Pakistan match could well be on the cards if India tops the table and Pakistan manages to find some form. Although, this seems a bit difficult considering the manner in which Pakistan are poised in the table, mathematically the odds cannot be ignored. Sarfaraz Ahmed's side is currently placed 6th in the points table, with 2 wins, 3 losses and a no-Result from 6 matches.
In order for us to witness another clash between the neighbours, Pakistan would be required to win all their remaining games against New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan so as to fancy their chances in the top 4. Pakistan would also require Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh to lose at least one game, as they, too, stand a chance of giving a competition to the Asian side for the semi-final berth by winning all their scheduled matches.
India, on the other hand, have established a firm grip on a spot in the next phase, with their impeccable brand of cricket. The challenge for them would be to win all their remaining games, in order to claim the top spot. Further, considering the fact that the in-form Men in Blue have their games against some of the sides which Pakistan requires to lose, shifts the odds in favour of another Indo-Pak clash.
Finally, the prospects of a subcontinental semi-final would require England to lose all their games, so that the hosts are out of contention. These results have been calculated to avoid bringing the net run rate into play for any of the positions.
If the aforementioned equation materializes, then India, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan would advance to the next stage. India would top the points table with 17 points, while Pakistan would be placed fourth with 11 points. Australia and New Zealand would occupy the second and the third spots, depending upon the results of the match between them, and that of the world champions and South Africa.
Cricket is a game of uncertainties while India and Pakistan are two of the most unpredictable sides on the global stage. Thus, considering the mathematical equation at hand, the chances of another India versus Pakistan match in this World Cup cannot be overlooked.
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