The biggest subcontinent showdown is yet to begin as India gears up to play Pakistan in their opening match of 2015 World Cup in Adelaide. Talks are doing rounds that it will be among the most watched matches in the cricketing history. There are differing opinions regarding allotment of a high-voltage match so early in the tournament. Some are of the opinion that such a prestigious encounter should have been scheduled later on in the tournament when the stakes could have been higher and the teams would have found their groove. The others feel that playing such an important clash right at the start will help both teams enjoy a rather calmer tournament later on.
Now that the stage is all set, let’s see the developments around the India-Pakistan match.
What are India’s Chances in the Game?
Indian team does not look upbeat about its form, with just a solitary win against Afghanistan in a warm up game in about three months stay in Australia. The team is injury-ridden with crucial members in different stages of getting fit. On top of it, there are assumptions in certain circles that this team is significantly weaker than the 2011 team that had class performers in their prime such as Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh with the bat and Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh with the ball. However, it will be wrong to completely rule the Indian team out.
To start with, India has spent close to three months in Australia and is perhaps most acclimatised to the conditions, with the exception of Australia itself. Experts such as David Warner and Javed Miandad also acknowledge this fact. Michael Clarke and Greg Chappell also feel that it would be unwise to rule out India completely from the race.
India also has an exceptional record against Pakistan in the World Cup games, having never lost a game against the archrival. That needs to be kept in mind as well. The World Cup is a stage where your success is determined by how well you execute the basic skills; how few mistakes you make, and how well you utilize the chances you get. If India can tick all the boxes then there is no reason why it cannot win.
Will it Draw the Biggest Television Audience?
Perhaps this will be the most followed game in the tournament apart from the semifinals and final. This is also one of the reasons that the tournament organizers decided to put it right in the beginning – a marquee match involving two visiting teams on a Sunday. This could very well be the game that keeps the turnstiles going and gets people hooked on to the tournament. Approximately 300 million viewers will witness this contest as each team will try to lift its game and be the victor. Who remembers the vanquished, anyway?
Is Narendra Modi Indulging in Cricket Diplomacy Ahead of the Match?
A couple of days back the PM Modi tweeted his support for the Indian team ahead of the World Cup. While the act was not a novel one, the method indeed was! He tweeted to each and every member of the squad and also praised them for the stronger aspects of their game. This can have two kinds of effects on the players – it can either gee them up (after all, it is not every day that the PM of your country encourages you like this) or bog them down when they consider how much the Head of the State expects from them.
The fact that Modi telephoned the heads of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and conveyed best wishes to their teams at the World Cup gains relevance in the backdrop of his continuous attempt to increase India’s clout in SAARC. Modi reportedly bonded with Pakistani PM over cricket and signalled a diplomatic thaw by dialling him and discussing issues of bilateral importance.
Big B in the Commentary Box
The India-Pakistan match will be a crowd-puller for one more reason. The audience will get to hear Amitabh Bachchan as the commentator. A large chunk of audience would tune into the game to listen to the most revered baritone in India voicing his opinions on the gentleman’s game. This promotional tool for Big B’s latest film ‘Shamitabh’ would add a certain degree of charm to the match.