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High-voltage India-Pak tie today

With a weather threat looming large, fans will be hoping that rain does not play spoilsport again, reports A Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Sep 14, 2007, 12:51 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times

The last two times India and Pakistan were supposed to face each other in a cricket match, they couldn't.

In the World Cup in March-April, both the teams made an early exit when they were supposed to take each other on in the Super Eight. A charity match in Glasgow in July turned out to be a damp squib.

Hopefully, both the teams, and the millions of cricket fans across the globe, will be third time lucky when the two nations square off against each other at Kingsmead on Friday. It would be their first Twenty20 international meeting.

However, a weather threat again looms large over the match. There is a 60 per cent chance of rain.

If the match is washed out, it will be disappointing for the whole cricket fraternity. The statement of Pakistan's new coach, Geoff Lawson, that an India-Pakistan series is 10 times bigger than the Ashes is indicative of the scale of the rivalry.

The World Cup history is on India's side. But all-rounder Shahid Afridi, the Man of the Match in Wednesday's tie against Scotland, pointed out that the past will not have any bearing on Friday.

"This is the Twenty20 World Cup, not the World Cup," Afridi said. "It's okay that they have always beaten us in the World Cup. But when it comes to Twenty20, all the teams are very good. Anything can happen on a given day."

Salman Butt, the vice captain, summed up the importance of an India-Pakistan match. "It's the biggest match for any player," Butt said on Thursday. "It's an opportunity for every player to make a name for himself."

Skipper Shoaib Malik conceded that the match will be a "pressure" game.

"Whenever we are playing against India, it's always a pressure game," Malik said. "But we are here to win every game. whether it's against Scotland, India or Australia. We just want to give 100 per cent and play to win."

Pakistan, however, didn't look convincing during their 51-run win against Scotland on Wednesday. While none of their batsmen could score a fifty, with Younis Khan being the highest scorer with 41, there was only one 30-plus partnership.

Malik admitted that they committed some mistakes, adding, "Our batsmen could not last long, so we missed out on the slog overs."

The Pakistan captain indirectly sent out a strong message to his comrades, saying: "We'll sit down, discuss and decide how to rectify the errors. We can't afford such mistakes twice."

India will be hoping that Pakistan do not improve in all these areas on Friday.

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