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Posted at: Jun 15, 2019, 9:18 AM; last updated: Jun 15, 2019, 9:20 AM (IST)

Hype starts to build up...

Pak train indoors, Kohli asks team to get basics right, hope for good result

Rohit Mahajan at the World Cup

Manchester, June 14

The Pakistan camp is in intense training. It’s raining outside — what else?! — but the men are at work in the indoor training facility, mending and fixing minor issues with their games. Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s chief selector, is there, a very large physical presence, and he’s offering advice to the batsmen.

Fakhar Zaman is concentrating on trying to tear the hide off the ball. Imam-ul-Haq is defending with solidity and attacking with power. Mohammad Hafeez, the former captain, stops by for a pleasant chat, saying he’s looking forward to a sunny Sunday. “Hope we’d have a game after all the rain,” he says.

Marquee match

After days of rain, the sun peeped out, shining brightly on the pitch and the thousands of fans who are streaming into the city. This is the big one — India vs Pakistan on Sunday at the Old Trafford ground. People may have to sell their cars to raise the money to buy a ticket — online, they’re going for as much as £2,500. Some are indeed willing to pay any price for a ticket. “We expect thousands of people without tickets to gather outside the stadium, as we,” says a Lancashire Cricket Club official. When the ticket sales were opened, they were sold out in minutes — over 700,000 people had applied for them, after all.

The good people of the Lancashire Cricket Club are desperately praying for good weather on Sunday. From the stewards to the senior officials, everyone is preparing for the deluge of the fans.

A business manager with the club, Warren Hegg, said: “It’s probably one of the biggest games in cricket. Cricket is life in that part of the world and both sets of fans are really fanatical about the game... The atmosphere is gong to be electric.”

Be professional: Kohli

Virat Kohli spoke yesterday about playing Pakistan, and he spoke words that were calm and confident, yet measured. “It’s very calm and relaxing when we enter the field. The atmosphere and frenzy around the event is going to be a little intimidating for the guys who are going to experience it for the first time,” he said. “But you always have to be professional when you enter the field and try to get your basics right and hope for a result you are happy with.”

Be professional? Easier said than done! When India reached the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh was asked about staying cool for the match against Pakistan. With a weary smile, Yuvraj said that when it’s time to play Pakistan, the reminders to stay calm, to not worry, to take it as another game… All of them are quickly forgotten in the heat of the contest. “It didn’t work out. It’s not possible to get away from the fact that it’s the World Cup,” Yuvraj had said.

But it’s good to emphasise this, yet again: It’s just a match, though those willing to sell their cars to buy a ticket would not agree. 

Need to be aggressive against Amir: Sachin to team India

Manchester: Sachin Tendulkar wants Indian batsmen to bat aggressively against Pakistan’s in-form pacer Mohammad Amir in the marquee clash on Sunday. “I wouldn’t go in with a negative mindset of playing dot balls against him. If you get an opportunity, I would encourage India to play their shots and stay positive,” Tendulkar said. “It’s not about survival but rather going out there and defending positively. No need to do anything different. We need to be aggressive in all the departments. The body language is important — the bowler knows that you’re in control if you defend confidently,” he added. Tendulkar feels Pakistan, who have won just one of their three matches so far, will be targeting Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma on Sunday. — PTI

India will beat Pak 7 out of 10 times

When I was playing, the Pakistan team was much better than us. Today, I can say that if they play 10 matches with us, India will win 7. What happens that day God knows — Kapil Dev

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