Agency Manchester: A cricketing rivalry that transcends beyond the realms of 22-yards will be reignited when India and Pakistan square off in a World Cup encounter that could have fascinating sub-plots with Rain Gods threatening an anti-climactic twist. The escalating cross-border tensions between the two neighbouring nations add to the intrigue with KL Rahul’s technique being tested by Mohammed Amir and Wahab Riaz’s skills finding more than a match in a colossus like Virat Kohli. Even if they feel that it’s just another game, perhaps all players in their hearts know that this is a special match even if at times the reason in purely non-cricketing. No wonder Sachin Tendulkar urges Indian batsmen to be more aggressive against a skillful Amir unlike 2017 Champions Trophy while skipper Kohli speaks about having an “ideal mindset” even if the first-timers may find the “occasion intimidating”.
The narrative of Indo-Pak duel is such that irrespective of whether it is a World Cup game or not, it creates heroes or villains for life in the eyes of fans. Ajay Jadeja’s assault of Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal or Salim Malik’s 72 off 35 balls in a tough run chase that stunned the 90,000 plus at Eden Gardens in 1987 are stuff of legends. People remember these matches while forgetting that both were proven match fixers, who brought the game into disrepute. Chetan Sharma, despite a World Cup hat-trick and five-for in a Lord’s Test, is remembered for Javed Miandad’s last ball six in Sharjah in 1986. He was a far better bowler than that to live with a curse of a full-toss. Hrishikesh Kanitkar’s international career wouldn’t possibly deserve a footnote but people still remember him fondly because of his last ball boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq, under fading lights in Dhaka in 1998. Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohmmed Shami, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan. Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Shahdab Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Aamir, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Asif Ali. Match Starts at 3 pm IST.
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