PAK vs IND : India are looking to take another solid step towards a Cricket World Cup semi-final place when they take on Pakistan in London. Pakistan vs Pakistan World Cup 2019, Kennington Oval London Weather Forecast and Pitch Report Today: Pakistan are desperate to get their rain-marred campaign back on track as they take on holders India on Sunday.
This is already officially the wettest World Cup on record, but if there is one game organisers do not want wrecked by rain it is Sunday’s blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan.
International cricket is saturated. India and Pakistan play all the time, but they do not play each other all the time. Two of world cricket’s great powers, cultures and rivals – not to mention neighbours – have not met in Test cricket since 2008, or in a bilateral ODI series since 2012-13.
So their meetings are limited to tournaments, and at them, it is game so valuable that the International Cricket Council have admitted that draws have been fixed so the two teams meet. The subcontinental TV market is a major reason for the round-robin format of this tournament, and this game is the jewel in its crown. It is the sixth major tournament in succession that they have met in the group stages.
India won both meetings at last year’s Asia Cup, while at the 2017 Champions Trophy it was one victory apiece – although when it mattered, in the final at the Oval, Pakistan won by a whopping 180 runs. However, they have met six times at the World Cup, and India have won the lot.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s players do not appear in the Indian Premier League. So this is a game of absurd proportions to be treasured, and this point has taken some reaching.
In the ICC’s official ticket ballot, there were 500,000 applications for the 25,000 seats at Old Trafford. On Sunday, there is no hotter sporting ticket and on Friday resale sites were flogging them for more than £500.
“It’s a marquee event all over the world,” said India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday after his side’s game against New Zealand was rained off. Billions will watch on TV, including a few thousand in Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens at a fanpark.
And yet the reason this game does not happen regularly threatened this meeting, too. In February, there was a surge in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir. India claimed a militant group from Pakistan had carried out a car bomb attack, killing 40 paramilitary soldiers and injuring many more.
Kashmir has been disputed since partition in 1947. There have been three wars and plenty more conflict. Having first met in 1951, the teams did not play between 1961 and 1978.
The top Pakistan bowler upon their resumption, the great Imran Khan, is now their Prime Minister. For a few years after that, cricket was used as a diplomatic tool.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India promptly issued a statement urging “the cricketing community to sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates.” Kohli and his team were happy to follow whatever stance their board took. Thankfully, Sunday’s game got the go-ahead, although not without some overt political messaging: India’s players wore camouflage caps against Australia in March in solidarity with those killed a month earlier.
Things should be a little calmer come this weekend. There will be a vast police presence, but the atmosphere tends to be excitable but cordial. If the stakes are not high enough, throw in the fact that Pakistan, having lost to Australia on Wednesday, are clinging on in this tournament. They were excellent against England, but a washout against Sri Lanka to rain was a setback.
India are the opposite of Pakistan – steady and stable, even after Shikhar Dhawan’s hand injury. KL Rahul will open the batting, with the middle order tweaked.