When you read words like ‘Bring It On…’, ‘Frenzy peaks’ and ‘More than a game..’, in bold headlines, you can be sure it is the run-in towards one of sport’s greatest and most intense rivalries. A rivalry so huge, that other famous sport rivalries like those between Manchester United and Manchester City or Barcelona and Real Madrid feel like mere playground squabbles. A cricket match between India and Pakistan.
|the greatest sporting rivalry...|
Unlike other matches where the players have to deal with the people’s passion for cricket, in these matches they have to deal with the passion, the pride of their nation and an almost unbearable burden of the people’s expectations. Such is the pressure under which the players have to play a cricket match and every one of the 180 matches played between these countries which include Tests, ODIs and T20s has managed to maintain the same amount of intensity.
In the run up to the game there is an almost visible shift in the wind and the effect is felt in so many spheres of life. The tension in the air is palpable, people wait impatiently for the match day to come, and the streets are filled with people showing their support for their teams. Temples and other places of worship see a sudden increase in attendance. TV broadcast channels run continuous analysis, expert’s views and endless reruns of their team’s past victories while newspapers and magazines extend their sports sections to accommodate the various articles. The political system too is not spared as all the unresolved agendas between the two countries are suddenly put into spotlight and the politicians run for cover to avoid talking about ‘Peace Talks’ between the two countries. It has also been observed that both countries suffer a considerable drop in production on the day. But my favourite would have to be how people get busy thinking about unique excuses to skip office or college on the day. I can sympathise with them, as I too have been thinking for a good excuse since last week!
Since India and Pakistan won their respective quarterfinal matches last week, the subcontinent is buzzing with nationalistic sentiments. I might even be bold enough to say that people in both the countries seem to be making preparations for a war rather than a cricket match, such is the intensity. The world seems to have totally forgotten about the other semi-final match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
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In terms of statistics when both the countries are compared, Pakistan is ahead of India in the number of wins in Tests and ODIs. But when it comes to the day of the match, predicting a winner is near to impossible as both the teams are quite similar and the pressure and intensity bring the best out of both sets of players. When it comes to World Cups though, India holds a clean record against Pakistan; 4-0.
But when the players take field tomorrow, all statistics, expert views and analysis and history between the two will be forgotten. All that will matter is how well the teams perform and who wins. For a moment the World Cup itself will be forgotten and only this match will matter. Whatever happens, it is surely going to be a cracker of a semi-final at Mohali tomorrow.