The World Cup 2011 will reach its zenith as the two fiercest rivals of world cricket, India and Pakistan, square off against each other in a semifinal match in Mohali today. The excitement has already reached fever pitch, with Indian police leaving no stone unturned to ensure peaceful progress of a match where both the prime ministers of the two countries, Manmohan Singh of India and Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan, will be in attendance.
This will be the fifth World Cup encounter between the two countries, and interestingly, India have won all their previous four matches against their great rivals. In this edition, both teams have shown stellar form, with Pakistan topping their group and India knocking out defending champions Australia in the quarterfinals. Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s captain, has said that the pressure will be on home team India, while others say that playing at home will be an advantage for the 1983 Cup winners. Pakistan last won the World Cup in 1992.
It will also be the first match on Indian soil between the two countries since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks for which Indians blamed the Pakistanis, further souring already-tense relations.
Many offices are set to be closed in the afternoon in both the countries, while thousands of Pakistanis are set to take part in a mass prayer session today. The chief minister of Pakistan’s largest province has promised each player 25 acres of land if they beat India. In further evidence of the craze that has gripped the populace of the two countries, the match will be televised live at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium where supporters will watch the marquee game free of charge.
Police said they were “leaving nothing to chance” with a security blanket involving 2,000 police and paramilitary personnel around the venue in Mohali. Aside from the many police on duty, the security deployment will reportedly involve anti-aircraft guns and missiles.
Courtesy of The Daily Star