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World T20: Stage set for another India vs Pakistan blockbuster

Both teams will be looking to win Friday's encounter. Reeling under scams and recent losses, Team India needs a shot in the arm. On the other hand, Pakistan will be keen to win their first World Cup match against India. Full Coverage

india Updated: Mar 21, 2014 03:00 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times

It’s been more than four decades since Bangladesh won its battle of liberalisation against Pakistan to become independent. But even today, an India-Pakistan cricket match anywhere in the world divides the country right down the middle, and more so when Bangladesh are the hosts.

Only a few other things like Abahani Krirachakra playing Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting in either cricket or football or a debate on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League or Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have a similar effect on this very emotional and impulsive nation of around 16 crore people.

There could not have been a bigger match to get the Super 10 stage of the World T20 off to a really flying start. The guys manning the hotel reception have repeatedly asked for tickets and even promised a discount if they got two, the auto rickshaw driver ferrying us between the team hotel and the stadium and even the driver taking us to Fatullah have all conveyed their requisitions as more and more tickets for Friday evening’s blockbuster are trickling into the black market at close to 10 times the face value.

Both the teams need to win this tournament more than any other nation taking part in this meet.

Indian cricket is reeling under a series of losses. The last time India won an international match in any format against a top Test-playing nation was way back in November when they got the better of Australia and the West Indies at home. Dust is yet to settle on the Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal and just a few days ago skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni filed a Rs 100 crore case against a section of the media for bringing his name in the scandal.

The start of the IPL this time will not be in India and so just like India’s 2011 World Cup victory celebrations and Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 international hundreds were quickly shoved to the back seat, this time around, it is unlikely that the domestic T20 league’s craze will wash a failure here off shore with everything else. Voices of criticism gathering momentum against coach Duncan Fletcher and a defensive mindset of Dhoni while leading in Tests, will increase in both mass and velocity.

For Pakistan, their first World T20 victory in 2009 just months after the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in Lahore, was not enough for other Test playing nations to resume tours of the country they even now consider unsafe. A win here can unite the nation in celebrations forgetting for a while the dodgy economic scenario and a constant threat of unrest.

Moreover, skipper Mohammad Hafeez and his boys will want to keep the trophy for a longer period of time than they were allowed to when they had won the second edition of the tournament. Pakistan were World T20 champions for just 11 months as the ICC organised the third edition of the tournament the next year. But the most poignant reason for Pakistan’s extra motivation to beat India here would be the fact that they have never defeated India in any world cup match in any format.

Whoever wins on Friday will get the perfect momentum for the rest of the tournament.

First Published: Mar 20, 2014 21:44 IST