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Asia Cup 2022 | India vs Pakistan: It's more than just a cricket match

India have the edge over Pakistan in T20Is, winning seven and losing only two. However, Pakistan seek confidence from their T20 World Cup 10-wicket win last year at the same venue.

August 28, 2022 / 06:17 AM IST

India vs Pakistan on the cricket field does not happen often these days. And, whenever it happens anywhere in the world in multi-nation tournaments like the ICC and ACC tournaments, everyone gets aroused. The demand for tickets and passes for an India-Pakistan match is beyond imagination.

The ticket prices go sky high and the moment they are made available for the public, they are sold out before you even blink your eyes. A taxi driver of Pakistan origin earning his livelihood in Dubai said the other day that the price of the tickets for the India-Pakistan match is more than three times the price for the rest of the matches.

Such is the nature of an India-Pakistan match that for this year’s ICC T20 World Cup clash between the two nations in Melbourne on October 23, after the tickets were sold out in just five minutes, Cricket Australia has released 4,000 additional standing room tickets and a limited number of additional seated allocations.

According to a report in Khaleej Times, tickets that are actually priced at Dirhams 2,500 (Dh 1 is approximately Rs 22) for hospitality lounge are advertised for sale for Dh 5,500 while tickets for the general entry priced at Dh 250 are listed for Dh 700.

The craze for the blue riband match in any tournament is unbelievable. And, the one on Sunday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in a Group A league match between Rohit Sharma’s India and Babar Azam’s Pakistan is no different. The history behind the two nations and their highly intense rivalry over the years gives the match gigantic proportions and is looked at as much more than just another cricket match.

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Even for the actual players involved in this match, inasmuch as they try to look at it as just another match when they cross over the boundary ropes and take the field, the atmosphere surrounding them could sometimes throw them off-guard. The build-up to an India-Pakistan match is just unthinkable. The mind games start long before the match, the strengths and weaknesses of the teams are dissected.

When Sharma and Azam lead their respective teams out on Sunday, they carry the expectations of their respective countries on their shoulders. More than just a cricket match, any India-Pakistan cricket match is looked at as a war.

It is actually the contrary among the players. Great, life-long friendships are created between players from the two teams and they actually wish each other well. The injured Pakistan left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi wishing India’s Virat Kohli, who is all set to appear in his 100th T20I on Sunday, to return to form at the earliest, and India vice-captain KL Rahul sharing concerns about Afridi’s injuries and saying how frustrating he must be feeling about missing games in such a big tournament speak of the special bond between players from the two teams, some that have been built from the under-19 days and extend to the senior level.

India have the edge over Pakistan in T20Is, winning seven and losing only two. However, Pakistan seek confidence from their T20 World Cup 10-wicket win last year at the same venue. This time, though, they don’t have Afridi to rock the Indian top-order.

Speaking on the match eve, India captain Rohit Sharma said: “It’s a fresh tournament, a new start for us. We always talk about starting fresh, not to think about what happened in the past. That’s how things move and we also want to move in the same direction. It’s a challenge to play Pakistan, no doubt. What we want to achieve and what we think as a group. We will focus on that rather than think of the opposition. We are here for a purpose. Everyone is quite excited to be here and want to start the tournament on a high.

“We do talk about our losses. That’s how we want to improve as a team. What we did right, what we did not do right. That (2021 T20 World Cup) loss hurt us. It’s been a while since that game was played. We have another challenge in front of us. There is no point in thinking about that loss. At the moment, we need to think about what we did not do well as a team that night. We tried to correct those mistakes in the games that we played after that. We learn from mistakes and keep talking about that. The team is coming out of playing a lot of T20 cricket. The opposition will challenge you every now and then. You need to find ways to respond to the challenges. We will not think too much about what happened. Obviously, losses do hurt. This is a fresh and important tournament for us and we need to keep our focus here right now.”

Pakistan skipper Azam said that the team will “definitely gain confidence from the win” last year.
Guru Krishnan
first published: Aug 28, 2022 06:17 am
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