One of the most exciting and much awaited ICC World Cup match between sub-continent arch-rivals Pakistan and India is to be played in Adelaide on Sunday (today).
How the crowd is taking this match can be judged from the fact that all tickets for today’s encounter sold out within a few hours.
According to a foreign sports channel it will be the most watched game in the history as it is expected to attract more than a billion viewers.
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in the sub-continent. No other form of entertainment creates as much excitement and enthusiasm in this part of the world as cricket does.
This reaches its peak when there is a match between Pakistan and India. People of both countries take it as a war even if it is only a round match of a tournament.
The expectations of the people put extra pressure on both sides. It becomes a battle of nerves more than talent and experience. History favours India for today’s encounter as Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup game, either in 50-overs version or in Twenty20 format.
But history is past and one really can’t depend on it.
In 50-overs World Cups, India and Pakistan have met five times and India have won every time — at Sydney on March 4, 1992, by 43 runs; at Bangalore on March 9, 1996, by 39 runs; at Old Trafford on June 8, 1999, by 47 runs; at Centurion on March 1, 2003, by six wickets; and at Mohali on March 30, 2011, by 29 runs.
The first World Twenty20 was played in 2007 in South Africa and the match between Pakistan and India ended in a tie. Bowl-out took place, which India won by 3-0.
The teams met again in the final. Pakistan needed six runs off 4 balls with one wicket remaining. Misbah-ul-Haq, on 53, was on strike. He got out on the fourth ball of Joginder Sharma and India won the match.
The format for this World Cup is the same that was used in the 2011 edition. There are two groups of seven teams each. The top four teams from each group proceed to the knockout stage, beginning from quarter-finals.
Former Indian master blaster Sachin Tendulkar is the highest run-getter in the World Cup history with 2278 run in 45 matches at an average of 56.95 with the help of six centuries and 15 fifties.
For Pakistan former skipper Javed Miandad scored 1083 runs in 33 appearances, averaging 43.32, including one hundred and eight half-centuries.
Pakistan’s former great Wasim Akram remains the most successful bowler with 55 wickets in 38 matches at an average of 23.83. Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath of India took 44 wickets apiece with averages of 20.22 and 27.81, respectively.
The Indian batting consisting of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni is too hot to handle for Pakistani bowling which looks toothless without Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, and Junaid Khan.
This will be the first time that Sachin will not be part of an India-Pakistan World Cup encounter.
The batting legend remained a central figure in Indo-Pak encounters from Sydney 1992 to Mohali in 2011. Tendulkar was the top-scorer on three occasions — 54 at Sydney 1992, 98 at Centurion in 2003 and 85 at Mohali in 2011.
Sachin scored 313 runs in five matches he played against Pakistan at an average of 78.25.
On the other hand, looking to rewrite history by beating India, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is confident that if his players played their best cricket they can beat India. “We know how important this match is and we are going with a clear mind that we want to change history and beat India in World Cup,” said Misbah before departure to New Zealand.
Pakistani players and fans are desperate to avenge all their World Cup defeats and the Green-shirts can do it if the batting and the fielding provide full support to the bowling.