Saturday 15 June 2019 6:22 AM UTC
MANCHESTER June 15: India and Pakistan will resume their cricketing rivalry with the World Cup 2019 group stage clash at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday. With passions running high among both fanbases and tense political relations between the countries, Pakistan legend Wasim Akram has urged fans on both the sides of the border to stay calm during the potentially volatile clash between the bitter rivals.
“This can’t be bigger,” Wasim Akram said on Friday. “India and Pakistan playing at the World Cup with over a billion audience is the biggest thing in cricket, so my message to both sets of fans to enjoy it and stay calm.
Wasim also said that the match should be enjoyed rather than used to inflame the situation.
“One team will win, one team will lose, so stay graceful and do not take this as a war. Those who project this match as war are not true cricket fans,” he added.
Pakistan have never beaten India in six World Cup matches dating back to 1992, but Wasim thinks that poor run could change on Sunday.
“Pakistan can beat India through controlled aggression,” said Wasim, who was part of the Pakistan team in the 1992, 1999, 2003 World Cups when they lost to India.
“Yes, I don’t have fond memories of the World Cup matches against India but I have enjoyed all these matches over the year as fans are glued to television wherever they are. It will be like that again on Sunday,” he said.
Wasim admits India have a stronger line-up, but he insists Pakistan can still shock their rivals in a one-off match, as they did in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
“Yes, India have a strong batting and bowling line up but Pakistan can match them. When it comes to India and Pakistan game the team that handles the pressure well wins the day,” he said.
“I surely hop that rain stays off. Fans want to watch a full matches, intense and lively so we all hope that rain stays away.”
India have five points from three matches after beating England and South Africa, while their match against New Zealand was washed out on Thursday.
Pakistan have lost against the West Indies and Australia and shocked hosts England, while their match against Sri Lanka was washed out.
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