Kolkata: With fans willing to pay any amount to watch India-Pakistan fight it out at Manchester on Sunday, the expected hullabaloo around the age-old marquee fixture is at an all-time high, days before the action gets underway.
The two cricketing nations do not play each other in bilaterial ties due to the political climate. Therefore, every time the two cross paths, it is a multi-nation tournament that allows that platform.
This time, there was much talk on whether the match will take place at all after the Pulwama terror attacks and the Balakot air strike.
But finally, the game is two days away and after rain forced the game between India and New Zealand to be abandoned, the fans are waiting with bated breath for Virat Kohli and his men to take on Sarfaraz Ahmed and his boys.
“For Sunday, we know we’re there when it comes to the mindset. Just about going out there and having a game plan, executing it. As soon as you enter the field, it’s calm and relaxed. The atmosphere from the outside, for the first time, it’s a bit intimidating, but we’ll look to execute well.
“It’s been competitive for years, it’s a marquee event all over the world, honour to be a part of the big game. Brings out the best in all of us,” Kohli said about the high-octane clash.
Such is the craze among the fans that they are willing to pay any amount of money to witness the game.
The tickets for the clash which will take place at the Old Trafford Stadium — which has a capacity of 20000 — were sold out within hours of the ticket window opening.
And now, those who have bought the tickets are earning more by re-selling them. A website, Viagogo, is now buying tickets from the fans and is reselling them for prices ranging from approximately Rs20,000 to Rs60,000.
According to the website, 480 people have asked them to resell their tickets which the website is now providing to those who want it.
The highest ticket price is available in the Platinum category for Rs62, 610 while the lowest is that in the Bronze category for Rs20,171.
The website has put up a map of the stadium wherein they have listed the services available in the stands for which the prices are mentioned.
An Indo-Pak match also means controversy, and this time the advertisements have stirred up a hornet’s nest with both the countries putting out promotionals.
India’s Star TV has been running an advertisement where an Indian supporter describes himself as Pakistan’s “abbu” (father), referring to India’s domination over their rivals in the showpiece event.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s TV channel has used a spoof of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to create a hype over the match. In the 33-second video, a character impersonating Abhinandan, can be seen mimicking the Air Force pilot who was captured by the Pakistan Army after the Balakot air strike.
Tennis star Sania Mirza has called the advertisements “cringeworthy” saying there was no need to “hype up” the India-Pakistan match with rubbish.
Rain, though, could play spoilsport like it has been in four of the World Cup matches so far.
Predictions are that it will be overcast throughout the day, with rainfall expected as the day progresses.
The ICC has said in a statement that it will be a logistical mayhem to keep reserve days for games in the group stage.
“Factoring in a reserve day for every match at the World Cup would significantly increase the length of the tournament and practically would be extremely complex to deliver,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson had said in a statement a few days back.
“It would impact pitch preparation, team recovery and travel days, accommodation and venue availability, tournament staffing, volunteer and match officials’ availability, broadcast logistics and very importantly, the spectators who in some instances travel hours to be at the game. There is also no guarantee that the reserve day would be free from rain either.
“Up to 1,200 people are on site to deliver a match and everything associated with it, including getting it broadcast, and a proportion of them are moving around the country. So reserve days in the group stages would require a significant uplift in the number of staff,” he added.