Saturday, October 14, 2023
AHMEDABAD: Indian fans from all over the country have thronged to the Indian city of Ahmedabad to watch Pakistani stars play in a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.
India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries and only play against each other in international tournaments due to longstanding political tensions.
Any meeting between them always raises fan interest with millions watching around the globe in a bonanza for broadcasters and sponsors.
Geo News correspondent spoke to fans in Ahmedabad who have travelled to watch Babar Azam's cover drive and Shaheen Afridi's bowling at the Narendra Modi Stadium as the two teams clash in the most-anticipated encounter of the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023.
"It's a big excitement for us to witness Shaheen's bowling live because we won't be able to watch him play here again. So, we are really very excited," he said.
Another Indian fan, fully dressed up in the team’s World Cup kit, said: "If there's someone who plays cover drive better than Kohli is Babar Azam. And we definitely want to see him hit some boundaries. And we want to see a close match that is the most important thing."
"Finally, after coming from very far... I hope it's a good match. It's a memory of a lifetime. May the best team win."
It’s important to note that the Narendra Modi Stadium is the world’s biggest cricket ground which can accommodate more than 120,000 spectators.
Security concerns saw the match brought forward a day from its original date, which coincided with a major Hindu festival in the city.
Authorities are deploying 11,000 police officers to keep order — around one for every 11 spectators in the event of a full house.
The match is sold out with media reporting that scalpers are asking for eight times the original price for tickets.
Top-ranked ODI batter Azam is yet to fire and has scores of five and 10 in Pakistan’s two victories.
Pakistan have never won against India in the World Cup in their seven outings since 1992.
Their previous loss was by 89 runs in a rain-hit league match of the 2019 edition in Manchester.
India remain behind in their overall ODI head-to-heads against Pakistan with 56 wins and 73 losses but have clearly been the stronger team in recent meetings.
Rohit’s men hammered Pakistan by 228 runs in their Asia Cup Super Four clash last month and went on to win the regional tournament.
Top Indian batsmen have been among the runs in the two victories at the World Cup so far with Virat Kohli hitting 85 and KL Rahul an unbeaten 97 against Australia.
Kohli then made an undefeated 55 in the win over Afghanistan.
Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s 4-39 on Wednesday gave the Indian bowling unit a boost ahead of Saturday’s match.