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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Cricket

India-Pak match of academic interest, but hardly a dead rubber
PTI
Birmingham, June 14, 2013
First Published: 13:35 IST(14/6/2013)
Last Updated: 13:46 IST(14/6/2013)

The result would only be of academic interest but it is unlikely to be just another dead rubber when traditional foes India and Pakistan take on each other in their final Group B match of the Champions Trophy in Birmingham on Saturday.

Like every time they have clashed in the history of the game, arch-rivals India and Pakistan will be taking fresh guard at Edgbaston on Saturday.

With India already in the semifinals and Pakistan out of the competition, the last group B league fixture of the ICC Champions Trophy will only be of academic interest, but only just.

When the Champions Trophy tickets went online for sale in April this year, it took all of 30 minutes for the allocated tickets to be lapped up. The insatiable demand from Indian and Pakistani fans will mean Saturday's game will be more than a dead rubber.

Birmingham is the second most populous city outside of London. The city is home to a chunky mass of Asian expats whose voracious appetite for cricket has always seen Edgbaston wearing its prettiest frock when India and Pakistan play.

At least 90% of the 25,000 capacity crowd is expected to be divided between the sub-continental cricket giants.

There are many ways to look at any India versus Pakistan clash. From an emotional standpoint, supporters of both teams will start from scratch but the final equation will be determined by how the players ultimately perform in the middle.

Like any such battle where mind and matter go hand in hand, Saturday's contest will be unique as it will test both skill and mental toughness of the players.

With nothing to lose, Pakistan can be a dangerous enemy.

The agony of crashing out of the Champions Trophy after two horrible performances against West Indies and South Africa will be instantly forgotten if Pakistan can beat India, the reigning world champions and the No 1 ODI team according to the ICC.


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