India and Pakistan lock horns in what is billed as the 'mother of all contests' in the 22nd fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at the Old Trafford in Manchester.
Despite the rain threat looming over the highly-anticipated match, fans are hopeful of witnessing a cracker of a game between the two arch-rivals who have faced each other only a handful of times since the last bilateral series in 2012-13.
While the Indian fans would be confident of the 'Men in Blue' defending their 6-0 streak over their neighbours given their strong performances against South Africa and Australia, the Pakistanis will be hopeful of springing a surprise and ending their hoodoo like how they conquered title favourites England at Trent Bridge earlier in the event.
Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who featured in each of those six victories over Pakistan except Adelaide 2015, was quick to suggest that the current Pakistani side led by Sarfaraz Ahmed is a dangerous unit, a team that can be taken lightly at one's peril.
"A team like India has ticked all the boxes – we are batting, bowling and fielding good, with that kind of confidence and the number of victories behind us, if we go out there and expand ourselves — we are a formidable opposition. Pakistan has always been unpredictable, and they are a dangerous side, so there is no way the Indian team is going to take them lightly," said Tendulkar on the Philips Hue Cricket Live on the Star Sports Network.
Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who formed an immensely successful opening partnership with Tendulkar in limited-overs cricket, described the contest as something that's "more than just a cricket match".
"A game with Pakistan is a lot more than just a cricket match; it’s a mix of emotions. People get a bit carried away, and excited with this game, so from that point of view it’s going to be a huge game in Manchester," said Ganguly on the show.
While there was a brief resumption of bilateral tours between the two countries in the previous decade, with the Indian team famously winning both the Test and ODI series in their historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, increasing cross-border tensions between the two nuclear powers has led to a breakdown in their relations, with the 26/11 attack in Mumbai being a tipping point in this regard. The only India-Pakistan bilateral tour in this decade was organised in India in 2012/13; the T20I series was tied 1-1 while Pakistan emerged victors in the ODI leg of the tour by a 2-1 margin.
Indian spin legend Anil Kumble spoke on how the lack of matches between the two teams has further fuelled their rivalry.
"The lack of frequency of the matches certainly builds up the drama and the importance of the event itself. If you have to win the World Cup you have to consistently beat teams, and India-Pakistan matches have always been marquee events.
"ICC knows that; as soon as they opened out the schedule and ticketing, within 15 minutes the match was sold out and that’s the importance of an India - Pakistan match," added Kumble on the show.
Catch ‘Dil se India’ LIVE before India vs Pakistan encounter on 16th June 2019, 8 am onwards, followed by Philips Hue Cricket Live at 1:30pm on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 Hindi HD.
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