MANCHESTER, June 15: A cricketing rivalry that transcends beyond the realms of 22-yards will be reignited when India and Pakistan square off in a World Cup encounter that could have fascinating sub-plots with Rain Gods threatening an anti-climatic twist.
Indian players during a training session ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan at the Old Trafford in Manchester, on Saturday. – AP/PTI
The escalating cross-border tensions between the two neighbouring nations add to the intrigue with KL Rahul’s technique being tested by Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz’s skills finding more than a match in a colossus like Virat Kohli.
Even if they feel that it’s just another game, perhaps all players in their hearts know that this is a special match even if at times the reason in purely non-cricketing.
No wonder Sachin Tendulkar urges Indian batsmen to be more aggressive against a skilful Amir unlike 2017 Champions Trophy while skipper Kohli speaks about having an “ideal mindset” even if the first-timers may find the “occasion intimidating”.
The narrative of Indo-Pak duel is such that irrespective of whether it is a World Cup game or not, it creates heroes or villains for life in the eyes of fans.
Ajay Jadeja’s assault of Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal or Salim Malik’s 72 off 35 balls in a tough run chase that stunned the 90,000 plus at Eden Gardens in 1987 are stuff of legends.
People remember these matches while forgetting that both were proven match fixers, who brought the game into disrepute.
Chetan Sharma, despite a World Cup hat-trick and five-for in a Lord’s Test, is remembered for Javed Miandad’s last ball six in Sharjah in 1986. He was a far better bowler than that to live with a curse of a full-toss.
Hrishikesh Kanitkar’s international career wouldn’t possibly deserve a footnote but people still remember him fondly because of his last ball boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq, under fading lights in Dhaka in 1998.
Both defy logic but since when have fans cared about logic.
For them, this is ‘The Match’ and there’s a binary feel to it. Either you win or lose. Everything else is forgotten duly.
Or else it is difficult to justify why fans are ready to buy over-priced tickets being sold on black even after factoring in that weather could possibly ruin things and they might lose out on a lot of money.
The exponential increase of media frenzy always hypes it up at insane level even though all the six World Cup duels that India have won have been pretty one-sided. – PTI
MATCH STARTS AT 3 PM