Cricket: India and Pakistan face off in Asia Cup

Amid fan anticipation, arch rivals compete in sold-out group game at the six-nation competition in the UAE.

India and Pakistan have faced each other 12 times in the Asia Cup [Aijaz Rahi/AP]

India and Pakistan are facing off in a highly-anticipated Asia Cup cricket match in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The sub-continent neighbours resumed their rivalry in a group A match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday in front of a capacity crowd. 

The game is the first between the two teams since Pakistan thumped India by 180 runs in the final of Champions Trophy at London’s Oval in June last year.

“There’s always pressure in India-Pakistan games. We’ve told our players, not just this game, consider every match as an India-Pakistan game if you want to win the event,” said Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistani captain, before the match.


“There’s pressure, but we’re trying to not let it affect us, and perform well,” he added.

Defending champions India are coming into the match at the back of a disappointing series loss to England and without regular captain Virat Kohli, who is sitting out the six-nation event with a back injury.

Rohit Sharma, who is leading the Indian side, said he was “slightly nervous, but excited” to be the captain. 

“This is a big tournament for me…I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

Tickets for the match were officially sold out two days before the much-awaited encounter, the tournament organisers said. 

‘Ultimate clash’

The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is seen as the biggest in the sport, with matches often getting heated.

The two nations have fought three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947.

On the cricket field, the two sides have played a total of 194 matches.

Ahead of the big game on Wednesday, fans, celebrities, and athletes from both sides of the border took to Twitter to wish their team luck.^tfw^tfw^tfw

Meanwhile, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, who is expecting her first child with husband and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, said she will be logging off social media for a few days to avoid the trolls. 

“Soo less than 24 hours to go for this match, safe to sign out of social media for a few days since the amount of nonsense that is going to be said here can make a ‘regular’ person sick, let alone a pregnant one. Later guys! Knock yourselves out! BUT remember ITS ONLY A CRICKET MATCH! Toodles!,” she wrote on Twitter. 

The match began at 11.30GMT (3.30pm local time), with gates opening an hour and a half earlier than usual.

Both sides won their opening group match against Hong Kong.

The Asia Cup, which takes place every two years, kicked off on Sunday, and the final will be played in Dubai on September 28.

Source: Al Jazeera