Cricket’s ‘Super Bowl’ Sunday

Friday, 07 Jun, 2024
India and Pakistan have clashed seven times previously in the T20 World Cup. (Photo courtesy: X@T20World Cup)

— Nassau stadium gears up for the D-Day as cricket lovers anxiously wait for India-Pak clash
— Pitches at the Nassau stadium have not behaved consistently, says the ICC
— A 10-second commercial during the game goes for a whopping $60,000

New York: The much-anticipated match of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup is here and the June 9 game between arch-rivals India and Pakistan — touted as the ‘Super Bowl’ — will bring back old memories of the mesmerizing Indo-Pak rivalry.

The stadium is fully booked, all tickets are sold and the decks are cleared for the big Group A game. Over 90 per cent of the available ad spaces have been taken by advertisers. The epic fight has seen a 10-second commercial cost a whopping $60,000, according to reports.

Amid the wait comes another news -- the pitches at New York, which has favored bowlers excessively, have come under heavy scrutiny after Sri Lanka were bowled out for 77 by South Africa, followed by India bundling out Ireland for 96.

A BBC report claimed that "India has privately voiced their unhappiness with the unpredictable bounce and two-paced nature of the strips amid worries over the safety of their batters." T20 Inc and the ICC said the pitches used so far at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium have not played as consistently as “we would have all wanted”.

"The world-class grounds team have been working hard since the conclusion of yesterday’s game to remedy the situation and deliver the best possible surfaces for the remaining matches,” they said.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has called the clash the cricket’s version of the ‘Super Bowl’. “For those Americans discovering the tournament, they should know that Pakistan’s game against India is like our Super Bowl. I used to absolutely love playing India and I really believe it is the biggest rivalry in sport,” he wrote in his column for ICC. Afridi also thinks Pakistan, the 2009 T20 World Cup winner, can challenge any team on a given day in the tournament.

India and Pakistan have clashed seven times previously in the event, barring the 2009 and 2010 editions of the tournament. The two teams met twice in 2007, including the thrilling final at Johannesburg, which India won by five runs to clinch the title.

India prevailed over Pakistan in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2022 editions of the marquee tournament, with the latter winning by ten wickets in Dubai in 2021 for their lone win over India in World Cups. Like in every Indo-Pak encounter at World Cups so far, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma hold the key for India to do well in the tournament.

India also needs the all-round powers of Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, and Ravindra Jadeja, along with back-up options in Azar Patel, to get their finishing touches with the bat and scalps with the ball. Pakistan does have a lot of variety in the fast-bowling department via Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Amir, and Abbas Afridi, but who all get into the playing eleven remains to be seen.

Both India and Pakistan are in the same boat in terms of breaking a long drought of ICC silverware. India's last major trophy was the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, while for Pakistan, it was winning the same tournament in 2017.  A win in the high-octane clash for either of them in New York might just be the catalyst for them to go all the way in lifting the trophy at Barbados on June 29.