Former champions India and Pakistan will face off on Sunday in a Twenty20 World Cup blockbuster in Dubai and the buzz around the game underlines the enduring appeal of the matchup between the subcontinent’s feuding neighbours.
India captain Virat Kohli and Pakistan counterpart Babar Azam have called it just another game, but that is clearly not the case.
India last hosted Pakistan in a bilateral series in 2013 and the teams now meet only in global tournaments, the last being the 2019 One-Day International World Cup in England.
“I was involved in the games in 2014 and 2016. If you ask me, as a player, it was always a high-pressure game,” former Indian player Suresh Raina wrote for the International Cricket Council (ICC) website on Saturday.
“In the build-up, everyone is just telling you how big it is … The fans have enjoyed this rivalry over the years and it is cricket at its best.”
The 17,500 tickets for the game were sold out hours after being put on sale and television channels in both countries are running special shows on the match.
“My inbox is flooded with requests for match passes,” Dubai businessman Anis Sajan, who owned a franchise in United Arab Emirates’ domestic T10 tournament led by England captain Eoin Morgan, told Reuters. “I’d say an India-Pakistan match is bigger than the Ashes.