More than just a game

Reuters
Friday, 23 June 2017

"Any spare tickets for sale?” On the road to The Oval Cricket Ground in South London, the question to the ticket touts will go unanswered. The demand for the India-Pakistan match on Sunday will be so great that the ground could have been sold out its 26,000 capacity five times over.

India v Pakistan is never just a cricket match. Some may term it a matter of ‘life and death’. Others, on cue, will claim it is more than that.  
Little matter of cricket

"Any spare tickets for sale?” On the road to The Oval Cricket Ground in South London, the question to the ticket touts will go unanswered. The demand for the India-Pakistan match on Sunday will be so great that the ground could have been sold out its 26,000 capacity five times over.

India v Pakistan is never just a cricket match. Some may term it a matter of ‘life and death’. Others, on cue, will claim it is more than that.  
Little matter of cricket

From pure cricketing angle, there’s no doubt that the high octane clash will light up the climax of the Champions Trophy with supporters of both teams set to paint London ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’. The bilateral cricket between the two teams has been stalled for quite some time now due to political tensions and cross border terrorism and they meet only at multi-team tournaments organised by ICC. Fans thus realise that the chance to see the two teams playing against each other will be a rare one.

When India and Pakistan have met on the cricket field, it has been fashionable to speak of ‘cricket diplomacy.’ And on the occasion - notably during India’s trip to Pakistan in 2004, its first in 14 years - the sport has helped thaw relations. 

Political platform
Sunday’s ‘mother of all battles’ final will certainly fuel passions in television studios. There will be shots of military combat, anchors will literally pad up to tell us that this is the only match that matters and shouting matches will seek to gain an edge before the actual contest. Twitter will be flooded with millions of tweets and trolls. 

The fixture remains an opportune moment for political protest. Outside Edgbaston 15 days ago, Pakistani fans brought signs demanding ‘Justice for Kashmir,’ while in London on Friday, India fans huddled around a sign that read, “London, Manchester, Mumbai: Terror Never Wins.” 

The economics 
While India’s finances are unaffected by not playing against Pakistan, the current impasse is financially crippling for Pakistan. When the BCCI sought to muster enough votes for its ‘Big Three’ power grab in 2014, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PCB for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023.

Although, the Indian board insists that the MoU was not a formal contract, it essentially signed the document in bad faith. The relationship between India and Pakistan has worsened in recent years.

The last bilateral series between India and Pakistan was played towards the end of 2012, featuring a three-match ODI series and two T20 matches. 

Cricket is a strange game. It takes just an inspirational innings or a dramatic performance to turn around the fortunes of a team. India and Pakistan vying for superiority in a world cricketing event, will surpass that all. There is however one final frontier to cross for the either team.

Stats

13
India beat Pakistan in 13 ICC meetings which is most by any team against the single opposition.

02
India’s record in the finals of tournaments vs Pakistan. The 2007 World T20, 1985 - the World Championship

02
The 124-run victory registered by India is their largest marginal victory in ICC Champions Trophy.

04
Number of times India have reached the Champions Trophy final, the most for any team.

34-7
India’s win-loss record in ICC events since the start of 2011, easily the best among all teams during this period.

680
Runs for Dhawan in Champions Trophy, the most by an Indian. Sourav Ganguly is second with 665 runs.

3 memorable sledging incidents
Javed Miandad-Kiran More: 
Javed Miandad was always known as fiery character who couldnt be kept quiet. He was also a key player in the Pakistan team of the 90s, and especially against India, he used to up his game a notch. During the 1992 World Cup, when India were taking on Pakistan in another high-voltage clash, Miandad got especially frustrated with Indian wicket-keeper Kiran More

Venkatesh Prasad-Aamir Sohail: 
The occassion was the 1996 World Cup, and India had set Pakistan a target of 288 thanks to a special innings from Ajay Jadeja. After hitting Prasad for a few boundaries, Sohail acted a bit cocky, pointing to Prasad where he will hit the next ball. Prasad, however, broke Sohail’s stumps on the next ball and gave him a sending off to the dressing room.

Kamran Akmal-Gautam Gambhir: 
ndia-Pakistan games are often high on passion and intensity. The occassion was the 2010 Asia Cup semifinal, and another high voltage India Pakistan clash was on the cards. Akmal made a loud appeal for caught behind which Gambhir didnt like, and the two players had a go at each other.

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