Arch rivals to meet today
Rain may play spoilsport at Edgbaston Birmingham (PTI): The result would only be of academic interest but it is unlikely to be just another dead...
Rain may play spoilsport at Edgbaston Birmingham (PTI): The result would only be of academic interest but it is unlikely to be just another dead rubber when traditional foes India and Pakistan take on each other in their final Group B match of the Champions Trophy here on Saturday With India already in the semifinals and Pakistan out of the competition, the last group B league fixture of the ICC Champions Trophy will only be of academic interest, but only just.
When the Champions Trophy tickets went online for sale in April this year, it took all of 30 minutes for the allocated tickets to be lapped up. The insatiable demand from Indian and Pakistani fans will mean tomorrow's game will be more than a dead rubber. Birmingham is the second most populous city outside of London. The city is home to a chunky mass of Asian expats whose voracious appetite for cricket has always seen Edgbaston wearing its prettiest frock when India and Pakistan play. At least 90 per cent of the 25,000 capacity crowd is expected to be divided between the sub-continental cricket giants. There are many ways to look at any India versus Pakistan clash. From an emotional standpoint, supporters of both teams will start from scratch but the final equation will be determined by how the players ultimately perform in the middle. Like any such battle where mind and matter go hand in hand, Saturday's contest will be unique as it will test both skill and mental toughness of the players. With nothing to lose, Pakistan can be a dangerous enemy. The agony of crashing out of the Champions Trophy after two horrible performances against West Indies and South Africa will be instantly forgotten if Pakistan can beat India, the reigning World Cup champions and the No. 1 ODI team according to the ICC. Champions Trophy history is, of course, siding with Pakistan. They have never lost to India in six editions of this event. Pakistan's first win in this tournament came at Edgbaston in September, 2004. Chasing 201 for a win, Mohammad Yousuf (then known as Yousuf Youhana) scored an unbeaten 81 to anchor Pakistan to a three-wicket victory with four balls to spare. In head-to-head, Pakistan made it 2-0 against India in the Champions Trophy with a 54-run win at the Supersport Park in Centurion in September 2009. Shoaib Malik scored a 126-ball 128 to give Pakistan's experienced bowling attack 302 runs to defend. Two run outs -- Gautam Gambhir (57) and Rahul Dravid (76) -- doomed India. Suresh Raina's 46 went in vain as Mohammed Amir, Naved-ul-Hasan, Saaed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi picked up two wickets apiece to consign India to a big defeat. Purely on form, India have a good chance to pull one back at Pakistan this time. A win will take India to the top of group B with six full points and they will travel to Cardiff to play the No. 2 team in group A.