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India v Pakistan: Just Another Game? - Not For Hardik Pandya, Certainly

India v Pakistan: Just Another Game? - Not For Hardik Pandya, Certainly

If the World Cup had not managed to make a lot of noise as yet, the India v Pakistan encounter in Manchester on Sunday (June 16) will make sure it does. An estimated 1.5 billion people are expected to tune in for this high-voltage clash making it one of the biggest spectacles in world sport. As far as sporting rivalries go, very few come close.

If the World Cup had not managed to make a lot of noise as yet, the India v Pakistan encounter in Manchester on Sunday (June 16) will make sure it does. An estimated 1.5 billion people are expected to tune in for this high-voltage clash making it one of the biggest spectacles in world sport. As far as sporting rivalries go, very few come close.

The Indian captain, Virat Kohli, has time and time again in pre-match press conferences downplayed the magnitude of the event, labeling it as "just another game". But there is no denying that the pressure of the encounter will have players and fans on edge at all times.

"I know people like to say it is just another game and all but it won't be that," Hardik Pandya said in an interview with ICC. "It is quite an exciting challenge, there will be lots of emotions, lots of expectations, lots of...everything.

"It will be a fantastic game, it will be jam-packed. There won't be one seat or one inch left in the stadium. We are just going to go there, enjoy and make sure we win the game."

Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja also agreed with Pandya's sentiments, insisting that in an India-Pakistan clash it is not just about winning or losing, a lot of other elements too get associated when the two the sides take the field.

"The pressure is on both the teams. It is not about winning or losing, it is much more than that," Jadeja told ICC. "When we play against Pakistan, that intensity is very high.

"Back home, in India people want us to win no matter what. So that does create more pressure, certainly."

India might not play against Pakistan in bilaterals any more but through the 1990s, the two teams faced off quite regularly. Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, reminiscing some of the moments said that when the two sides clashed in those days, especially in World Cups there would be the odd altercation which used to get carried forward but that does not happen anymore.

"In our time, we played against each other a lot and there would be the inevitable altercation between two players. Like the time Ajay Jadeja went after Waqar Younis at the '96 World Cup quarter-final. Venkatesh Prasad vs Aamer Sohail was a big moment in one of the World Cup games," Manjrekar told ICC.

"There would be these stories that would get carried on to the next series. Now, because India and Pakistan don't play each other, you can't do any kind of build up between two players."

Manjrekar though was quick to point out that despite the lack of bilateral series between the two arch-rivals there will be no shortage of excitement and emotions involved when India and Pakistan face each other at Manchester.

"But make no mistake, an India-Pakistan match in a World Cup stage, the same edge will come back. There is no doubt about it," he said.

"In India, the number 1 sport is cricket and the number 2 is a very distant number 2. India and Pakistan are more on the world map because of their cricket and is a big part of their existence."