Manchester is buzzing. And for a change, it’s not because of any major football game. The city is currently at the centre of attention for entire cricketing world as it gets ready to host the World Cup match between the game’s greatest rivals — Pakistan and India.
A sell-out Old Trafford awaits the two teams for Sunday’s game, which is regarded as the biggest of this World Cup.
Dozens of extra jets were scheduled to arrive in the city over the weekend as cricket fans begin to assemble in the city for the marquee match. The tickets were sold out minutes after they were offered online. They are still available but can cost an eager fan more than 2000 pounds per ticket.
Local officials are elated to be hosting such a grand affair that will have a global TV audience of over one billion.
Old Trafford has a capacity of 25,000 which is just a fraction of the 700,000 applications that were made for the tickets. Fully aware that thousands of fans would be in Manchester without valid tickets on Sunday, a fan zone — which can hold up to 3,500 people — has been established in Cathedral Gardens where the game can be viewed by fans on a large screen.
Similar facilities have been set up in other major centres in Britain. One of the largest ones would be established in London’s Wembley locality catering for around 5000 fans.
Apart from all this there’s a major question raising around that will rain have a say in India v Pakistan game?
Forecasters at the Met Office have said the recent damp weather is likely to continue into the weekend. A cold weather front is moving into the region overnight, bring rain on Saturday morning.
The showers will be slow moving across Manchester, but it is not all doom as gloom as they are expected to clear by midday. Bright spells and some periods of sunshine will develop after the rain has cleared.
However on Sunday the rain will make a return, unfortunately during the time the world cup match is due to take place.
As per Accuweather also predicts a light shower between 12 PM local time and 1 PM local time in Manchester on Sunday. Though the weather can change at any time in the UK, cricket fans will be hoping that the rain stays away for India and Pakistan to have a full 50-over match.
Incidentally, Old Trafford has not hosted a match since May 22, when Lancashire beat Worcestershire in a County Championship Division Two match. More recently, for the past week, it has rained every day, forcing the pitch to stay under covers for the most part. The sighter of the pitch showed no grass, although historical trend suggests swing bowlers could be in business.
On to Sunday then, and the forecast is quite positive, at least till late afternoon when light showers are expected. Everyone, including the ICC and their outgoing chief executive David Richardson, who was at the ground, will have their fingers crossed on that.
The ICC has been criticised for not having reserve days, with the world cricket board’s Chief Executive David Richardson making it clear that having something like that in the group stages would have been a logistical nightmare.
“This is extremely unseasonal weather. In the last couple of days, we have experienced more than twice the average monthly rainfall for June which is usually the third driest month in the UK. In 2018, there was just 2 mm of rain in June but the last 24 hours alone has seen around 100 mm rainfall in the south-east of England.
“When a match is affected by weather conditions, the venue team works closely with match officials and ground staff to ensure that we have the best possible opportunity to play cricket, even if it is a reduced overs game,” Richardson had said on Tuesday.