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 excitement 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. At the end of the day it is more a battle of nerves than talent.
After the Asia Cup, Bangladesh is hosting the fifth edition of the World Twenty20 in which 16 teams are participating.
All eyes will be set on the match between arch-rivals Pakistan and India, which is scheduled to be held on March 21.
Pakistan have the services of three top T20 bowlers in Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi, while the Indians have the best T20 batting line-up with Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and skipper MS Dhoni.
It is very interesting to know that Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup game, either in 50-overs version or in T20 format. Not even in Under-19 World Cup.
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 first match between Pakistan and India ended in a tie. The bowl-out took place, which India won by 3-0.
The teams met again in the final. Pakistan needed 6 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.
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.
The two teams last played each other at the Asia Cup on March 2. Pakistan beat India in the last over with the help of Shahid Afridi’s two sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin.
Now India will want to take revenge when the teams meet at the same venue — the Sher-e- Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
One positive thing for India is that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back in the side.