It is being termed as the mother of all cricketing battles. With the ad-rates going up 300%, the broadcasters are overjoyed. Forget about the match, the ICC has banned other channels from even showing footage of training.
Never before in the history of the tournament have India and
Pakistan clashed in the semifinal. Over the years, India-Pak games have developed a passion far beyond imagination. Prior to 2000, Pakistan had the better of India, but things have changed dramatically.
Both the teams have come this far riding on terrific form. Pakistan have been clinical. Their wins over Sri Lanka, Australia and West Indies have made the world sit up and take notice. Their bowling has been outstanding and Afridi has led from the front.
India must be very proud of their win against Australia. On a difficult pitch, batting second in a pressure cooker situation, they reached home in style which will give them confidence. The question now for both sides is, can they do it again?
The history of India-Pak games shows the side that handles situation better crosses the line first. It will also be a battle of composure between the two captains. Dhoni has been cool under pressure and Afridi has been the opposite. Afridi's exuberance has shown in his bowling but has taken away the batting skills. He is a better batter than what he has done in this World Cup. Dhoni, on the other hand, has also had an ordinary World Cup in terms of his batting ability.
It's going to be a game between the best batting side and the team with the best bowling ability. But Pakistan will need to bat very well if they are to contain India with their bowling. Mohali has that sort of pitch where the ball comes on to the bat and allows stroke-play. India will, in all probability, go with the same team. It will be hard to leave out Ashwin after the way he has bowled and fielded.
I have been part of many Indo-Pak matches. It's tough to relax when you go into such a huge game. You are bound to think, 'Have I covered all sides? Have I put in enough time at the nets? Am I ready mentally and physically?' The hype and expectation is very high but everyone needs to remember that it's only a battle between bat and ball. Whoever keeps it simple will go into the game with a better frame of mind.