Billions of eyes will be fixed on one of the biggest sporting fixtures in the world as neighbouring countries and arch rivals, India and Pakistan, go head to head in what is expected to be a thrilling Cricket World Cup showdown in Manchester on Sunday.
The game, which is billed as the “mother of all matches” by supporters, will see the two nations fuelled with passion from recent political tensions.
The match was almost called off when Pakistan and India teetered on the brink of war in February and India threatened to boycott the game.
But following Twitter spats from both sides and peace talks from the countries’ leaders, Old Trafford will host the iconic match.
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One man who has felt the pressure of this fixture is former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram.
“The pressure comes from your relatives, your parents, your cousins, the people down the road, you go to a restaurant and everybody wants you to win against India and vice-versa for Indian players,” the fast bowler, who spent many years playing for Lancashire County, told Sky News.
Speaking about the recent political tensions, Akram said: “A lot of people say that it’s a war, but at the end of the day, it’s only a game of cricket.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the players and supporters from both countries but at the end of the day it’s a game.
“Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose, as long as it’s fair and both the teams should fight until the last ball.”
Akram won the World Cup with Pakistan in 1992, but his side has never beaten India at the most prestigious cricket tournament in the world.
While there are still political tensions, Akram urged fans to just enjoy the game.
“My advice to fans from both sides is to enjoy the pressure, enjoy the game and just support your team,” he said.
“Let’s be nice after the game, whoever wins, whoever loses, that doesn’t matter.
“In the end, like civilised countries, civilised people, just shake hands and say the best team won.”
The two teams will be playing at the ground Akram spent his Lancashire County career at, and while only 26,000 seats were available, over half a million people applied for tickets.
The spectacle, which begins at 10.30am, will be followed by billions of people across the globe.
The Cricket World Cup is being hosted by England and Wales, with the final taking place on 14 July in London.
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