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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Cricket

Old rivals India & Pak set to generate heat in warm-up tie
Hindustan Times
Colombo, September 17, 2012
First Published: 00:17 IST(17/9/2012)
Last Updated: 01:46 IST(17/9/2012)

It's only a warm-up tie, but there always is plenty of spice whenever India and Pakistan clash, and Monday's game will be no different. Even though the teams will be allowed to juggle between 12 players, like always the contest will generate a lot of interest in both countries.

Despite the advertising blitz of the ICC, the lead-up to the tournament so far has been low key. In fact, the lack of buzz has been unmistakable. The India-Pakistan game is thus being looked upon as the perfect vehicle to generate interest and kick start the tournament.

That it is the only warm-up tie that will be beamed live on TV says a lot about the appeal of an Indo-Pak game. That these cricketing exchanges have been limited to ICC events for some time now has only increased the appetite of the cricket fans. It will be their first match since the 2011 World Cup semifinal.

Quality clashes
It's not just about the history between the two neighbours, the quality of cricket too is compelling on most occasions as players usually find the extra motivation needed to lift their game. And two of their best encounters have been at a World T20 tournament - at the inaugural edition in South Africa. In fact, it won't be an exaggeration to say that the contests played a big role in sparking the T20 revolution. They had started with a league tie in Durban, which finished with India winning the bowl-out. Then MS Dhoni and Shoaib Malik's men went on to make it a dream script for ICC by qualifying for the final.   

The main idea of a warm-up game is to get into rhythm, and there's nothing like a solid workout to achieve that. Monday's game will also provide an opportunity to test each other before their much-anticipated Super 8s clash.

The good news for India is that Gautam Gambhir's wrist injury suffered during the first warm-up game win against Sri Lanka on Saturday is not serious and he is available.

The opener, who took a knock from Lalith Malinga's rising delivery and retired hurt, is India's best player of spin and against spin-heavy attacks like Pakistan's, he will be the lynchpin of  batting. The battle between Gambhir-Virender Sehwag and Saeed Ajmal-Shahid Afridi will be keenly looked forward to.


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