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India vs Pakistan: Despite What Captains Might Say, It's Not Just Another Game!

Karthik Lakshmanan |June 15, 2019, 5:17 PM IST
India vs Pakistan: Despite What Captains Might Say, It's Not Just Another Game!

Manchester: "We keep saying again and again. If you ask the players, it's very different from how the fans feel. Yes we feel the anticipation and excitement when you enter the stadium. It's just another game you need to win as a team. Yes it brings pressure because the atmosphere in the stadium is very different. But as soon as you enter, it's a game of cricket for all of us. We keep saying this again and again, but that's the truth," India's captain Virat Kohli said of the India-Pakistan rivalry before the World Cup.

Sitting next to Kohli, his Pakistan counterpart quite literally added a ditto, saying 'my answer is also the same'.

It is just another game, but let's try and make sense of what's at stake.

It's just another game. More than 8,00,000 people applied for tickets for it, for a stadium that has a capacity of 26,000. The organisers have arranged for a 'fan park' to screen the match in an outdoor atmosphere for fans in the city who couldn't get tickets. The large, and possibly volatile crowd has kept police on alert. Armed police will be a part of the biggest security operation for a cricket match in Manchester.

It's just another game. The tickets are going for at least 2500 pounds, approximately Rs. 2,20,000, on secondary ticketing sites. It's this game that has made fans from India and Pakistan search 'Manchester weather' more times than ever online in the last one week.

India-Pakistan

It's just another game. The ICC are expecting more than a billion people to be watching it across all platforms. If that happens, as it should unless rain plays spoilsport, it will become the most followed cricket match ever.

It's just another game. The advertising rates on the official broadcaster for this game is five-six times higher than the average figure for the rest of the World Cup.

It's just another game. It's also the game that's so important that the ICC even publicly admitted to rigging draws in major events to ensure the game doesn't miss out. "It’s silly to avoid (the fixture) when you can fairly cater for it," ICC chief executive Dave Richardson had said in 2016. The format of this World Cup doesn't require ICC to take that route.

It's just another game. But it's also the only sporting rivalry in the world where comparisons to war are thrown around casually. It's this game that unleashes the beast in advertisers on both sides.

It's just another game. But it's this game that becomes the first target each time there's a tussle between the two nations for reasons that have nothing to do with sport. Sunday's clash in Manchester too was put in doubt a few months back for similar reasons. It's why this 'just another game' rarely happens.

It's ironic and in some ways unfortunate that the actual cricketing rivalry is not even the most competitive one anymore. India have won six of their seven matches across formats against Pakistan in the last five years, often comfortably. The one they lost though, was the most important one of them all - the Champions Trophy final two years back. India have never lost in World Cups to Pakistan, but the possibility of a Champions Trophy final repeat will keep fans on both sides on their toes.

Ind-Pak

A couple of days before the clash, Manchester already wore the look of a city getting ready for a party. Indians and Pakistanis, mostly the former, were everywhere on the streets and nearly all hotels booked out. Many more are expected over the weekend. The improved weather and forecast after a wet week has added to the glee.

"All the excitement and frenzy around the game could intimidate guys who are playing it (an India Pakistan match) for the first time," Kohli had said after India's washout against New Zealand. Among 30 players across both sides, only three - KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar and Mohammad Hasnain - are yet to experience an India-Pakistan rivalry. For the remaining 27, it will indeed be 'just another game'.

But for the billion following outside, it won't.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
IND
9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
2
AUS
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
3
ENG
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
4
NZ
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
5
PAK
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
6
SL
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
7
SA
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
8
BAN
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9
WI
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
10
AFG
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more