T20 World Cup: India face Pakistan as one of the fiercest rivalries in cricket reignites in Australia – Sky Sports

The T20 World Cup will feature one of the fiercest rivalries in cricket as India play Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; watch India vs Pakistan live on Sky Sports Main Event from 9am on Sunday.
By Amar Mehta
Sunday 23 October 2022 00:54, UK
India and Pakistan play each other in their first match of the T20 World Cup in Australia, amid continuing off-the-field tensions between the two countries’ cricket governing bodies.
While both sets of players have an amicable relationship on the field, matches are often used as part of the wider game of political chess between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), as highlighted by the recent dispute around the 2023 Asia Cup.
The BCCI said on Tuesday it would not travel to Pakistan for that competition and in response the PCB said it could boycott the 50-over World Cup in India later next year.
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The BBCI’s comments drew criticism from former Pakistan players, with Waqar Younis accusing the governing body of trying to “damage Pakistan”, while Wasim Akram told A Sport that “India can’t dictate how Pakistan will play cricket”.
Asked about the issue ahead of Sunday’s match, India’s captain Rohi Sharma said his side aren’t worried “about what is going to happen later”.
“There’s no point in thinking about it. The BCCI will make the decisions on that. We are focused on how we need to be very well prepared for (Sunday’s) game.”
Since 2008, the two nations have played just one bilateral series, with Pakistan visiting India in December 2012.
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This series followed an attack on the Sri Lankan national team in Lahore in 2009 that led to the suspension of tours in Pakistan, who were also removed as co-host of the 2011 World Cup, which was due to be played across the Indian subcontinent.
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Both teams faced each other in the semi-finals of the tournament, and it was used as an opportunity for diplomacy with Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani invited to watch alongside Monmohan Singh, who was India’s prime minister at the time.
Pakistan and India reached an agreement to play six bilateral series across eight years in June 2014, but the agreement fell through a year later.
In the last year, Australia and England have both played a series in Pakistan, but there seems to be no sign of India visiting their neighbours.
Political tensions have not eased in the last decade and meetings between the two sides have been limited to tournaments, with both teams placed in the same group in the last five T20 World Cups and the previous two 50-over competitions, while facing each other in one T20 semi-final and a Champions Trophy final.
India have dominated in recent tournament meetings, with Pakistan only winning one match – during last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The clash on Sunday will be the 14th time India and Pakistan face each other in a World Cup of either format, but the recent dispute over the 2023 Asia Cup has cast a shadow over the crunch tie, which falls on the second day of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Amid this backdrop of tension, thousands of fans will be hoping to get a glimpse of one of the greatest cricket rivalries at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Sunday’s heavyweight match-up is, not surprisingly, one of the most awaited contests in the Super 12 stage of the tournament and there will not be a spare seat in the house.
“India vs Pakistan is huge,” former Australia international Mel Jones said in an ICC official pre-tournament video. “I can remember when the tickets went on sale in Australia, it was 4-5 minutes, and they were sold out.
“It had everyone in Australia going, ‘oh okay it [the World Cup] is coming’, the big boys are coming to town.”
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Generations of India and Pakistan fans who call Australia their home will pack the iconic MCG on Sunday, while millions are likely to watch at home. The recent Asia Cup matches drew a digital audience of over 225 million.
“This is my first World Cup as a captain so I’m pretty excited and whenever we play Pakistan it is always a blockbuster,” Sharma told the ICC. “You feel the atmosphere more than anything else.”
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam added: “Any match against India is always a high-intensity contest. Fans also wait for them. On the field, we enjoy it a lot and give our 100 per cent.”
While rain is forecasted to disrupt the match, both teams will look to get their tournament off to a flyer, and what better way to build momentum than beating your fiercest rivals.
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