India and Pakistan are longstanding adversaries and only face each other in international tournaments due to deep-seated political tensions. Every encounter between these two teams garners tremendous fan interest, attracting millions of viewers worldwide, which is a boon for broadcasters and sponsors.
Enthusiastic fans eager to witness the match have gone to extreme lengths, such as reserving hospital beds in city wards after hotels ran out of rooms. By opting for health check-ups and overnight stays in private hospitals, this accommodation choice has proven more cost-effective, especially considering that some hotels have raised their rates by up to tenfold.
Both teams enter the match at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, named after the Indian prime minister, with undefeated records.
Pakistan’s last match was a record-setting World Cup chase of 345 against Sri Lanka, featuring an unbeaten 131 by wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan and a score of 113 by Abdullah Shafique.
“We have momentum now,” Rizwan commented after his standout performance in Hyderabad. “But they will also come with a plan, and we will also come with a plan.”
Pakistan boasts a formidable bowling attack led by left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, but they still conceded 344 runs to Sri Lanka in their most recent match.
Security concerns prompted the rescheduling of the match to a day earlier than initially planned, avoiding a major Hindu festival in the city.
To maintain order, authorities are deploying 11,000 police officers, roughly one for every 11 spectators in the event of a full house.
The match is completely sold out, with reports of scalpers asking for up to eight times the original ticket price.
India, the top-ranked ODI team, entered the World Cup as tournament favorites and lived up to the billing with a convincing six-wicket victory over five-time champions Australia. They are fresh from an eight-wicket win over Afghanistan, marked by captain Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking seventh World Cup century.
Rohit downplayed the hype surrounding the tournament’s most highly anticipated fixture, stating, “For us, it’s crucial that we don’t worry about external factors and focus on what we can control.”
National pride is at stake as top-ranked ODI batsman Babar Azam has yet to make an impact with scores of five and 10 in Pakistan’s two victories.
In World Cup encounters, Pakistan has never beaten India in their seven meetings since 1992. Their most recent loss was by 89 runs in a rain-affected league match during the 2019 edition in Manchester.
Although Pakistan holds a historical edge in overall ODI head-to-head records against India, with 73 wins to India’s 56, the Indian team has clearly dominated in recent meetings. Rohit’s side crushed Pakistan by 228 runs in their Asia Cup Super Four encounter last month and ultimately won the regional tournament.
Key Indian batsmen have excelled in the World Cup’s initial matches, with Virat Kohli scoring 85 and KL Rahul remaining unbeaten with 97 against Australia. Kohli also posted an unbeaten 55 in the victory over Afghanistan.
The performance of fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who claimed 4-39 in the last match, has bolstered India’s bowling unit ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
Despite delays in visa approvals, Pakistani journalists have arrived in India for the match, causing them to miss the team’s first two games.