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Old rivals rejoin battle in SL

When the World Cup is on, other sports usually count for nought as far as television viewership is concerned. But a few lakh people in the subcontinent will be glued to their television sets on Saturday to concentrate on cricket. Bivabasu Kumar reports.

cricket Updated: Jun 19, 2010 01:26 IST
Bivabasu Kumar

When the World Cup is on, other sports usually count for nought as far as television viewership is concerned. But a few lakh people in the subcontinent will be glued to their television sets on Saturday to concentrate on cricket. The reason? India will be playing Pakistan after almost a year since their Champions Trophy encounter in 2009.

A lot has changed in both camps since then -- players have come and gone, many have fallen out of favour; some have made remarkable comebacks. But those who matter are still around and that ensures a contest full of individual skill, nerve, patience and team spirit.

The cry for an India-Pakistan bi-lateral series is growing louder by the day, and even though the BCCI doesn't seem fully convinced, the PCB is desperately rooting for it.

It's not just the vibe around the contest that's hotting up, but the players seem to be excited as well. Gautam Gambhir was the first to start the mind games when he said on Wednesday: "It's a do-or-die game for Pakistan. So, the pressure is more on them. For any Indian, it's always a dream to perform well against Pakistan and beat them. So, I think the emotions will be high and whoever holds their nerve will win."

Fitness issues have been hampering India. Ashish Nehra struggled in between overs against Bangladesh and didn't bowl in the nets on Friday. "He (Nehra) is not hundred percent fit," said MS Dhoni and that might hand Bengal's Ashok Dinda a game.
The Indian seamers, including Zaheer Khan, struggled initially against Bangladesh, but Dhoni said it was due to inadequate match practice.

"It was after a long time that the fast bowlers were bowling in a match scenario. So, there were quite a few loose deliveries. But apart from that their length was good. The bowlers are putting a lot of effort in the field and there will be gradual improvement," he said.

Shoaib Akhtar concentrated more on his fitness than bowling at the nets and Dhoni agreed the speedster could make a difference on Saturday. "He can bowl fast and can be effective if he bowls well. He can trouble anyone on his day," Dhoni said.

Out of eight meetings in Asia Cup till now, Pakistan have beaten India four times, India have won thrice and once there has been no result. To know whether Pakistan are fifth time lucky or India level the win ratio, catch it live on your television sets.