MANCHESTER, JUN 15 (DNA) – Perennial political rivals India and Pakistan will face off on a Manchester cricket field today in one of the World Cup’s most hotly-anticipated and massively-watched games.The nuclear-armed neighbours have gone to war three times since independence in the mid-20th century – and another conflict nearly erupted earlier this year, giving an even spicier-than-usual geopolitical backdrop to the sport.
Some former players and fans even urged India to boycott the match at Old Trafford.
But the game was still the first World Cup fixture to sell out – hours after tickets went on sale for the 19,000-capacity stadium – and millions more will be watching at home.
India captain Virat Kohli and his Pakistani counterpart Sarfaraz Ahmed have played it cool, saying the players are only focussed on the game – despite obviously being aware of the hype.
“As soon as we step onto the field, its professional cricket … for us it’s just another game you need to win as a team,” Kohli said at a pre-tournament captains’ session with reporters. “Eventually it’s a game of bat and ball and that’s what you need to focus on.”=DNA