The old adage that sports and politics do not mix will ring hollow again when former champions India and Pakistan clash in a World Cup match on June 16 at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Bilateral cricketing ties between the two have remained suspended since 2008 and relations further soured in February this year after an attack that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK).
Several former India players urged Virat Kohli’s men to boycott the June 16 match in Old Trafford, Manchester, against their arch-rivals while others saw more merit in playing and extending India’s 6-0 unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cups.
“India-Pakistan matches have always been billed as the final before the final because people have attached political factors to the game,” cricket historian Boria Majumdar told Reuters.
Sports and politics always mingle, he said, recalling the black armband protest at the 2003 World Cup by Zimbabwe duo Andy Flower and Henry Olonga against Robert Mugabe’s political regime.
“The moment you are singing the national anthem on the sports field you are invoking a strong sense of nationalism. And what else is it but a political statement,” says Majumdar.
Also in 2003, England refused to tour Harare for a World Cup match, citing security fears after then Prime Minister Tony Blair called on them to pull out in protest against Mugabe’s regime.
“The pressure will be immense on both teams,” Majumdar said.
“The hype is massive, tickets have been sold out, and the broadcasters will project it as the final before the final. Every player in his heart of hearts knows this is a very different game, an opportunity to become a national hero.”
Security heightened for INDO-PAK World Cup clash!
The much anticipated India versus Pakistan encounter at the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019, would be beefed up with armed police officers, to counter any terror threat during the match.
As per Daily Mail, some 50,000 cricket lovers have applied to grab 25,000 tickets on offer for the June 16 fixture. The cricket match will take place at Old Trafford amid heightened tensions between the South Asian neighbors.
As per report, the law enforcement agencies will monitor areas around the stadium as supporters arrive and depart, while vehicle barriers will be put up, they would also keep an eye on the political situation between India and Pakistan as well.
The Pakistan versus India match considered the crown jewel of the cricketing tournament would take place on Sunday June 16, Old Trafford.
The national side, which is already present in England, will now start prepping for the upcoming World Cup, as the side will play two warm-up matches, against Afghanistan on May 24 and Bangladesh on May 26, before opening their World Cup campaign against West Indies on May 31.