While addressing an event organised by the All India Management Association, Kant said that India needs to grow at 9-10 per cent year after year for the next three decades.
It’s time for the biggest match of the ongoing ICC ODI World Cup. It’s India vs Pakistan, a rivalry that generates febrile atmosphere on both sides of the border, a rivalry where India has had the upper hand in the seven meetings so far, and more importantly a rivalry that elevates an average player to an overnight hero, and the heroics are written and shared across the globe for generations.
Gearing up for the Navaratri celebrations next week, Ahmedabad is already gripped in cricket fever as the battle lines for cricket’s biggest encounter at the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium with both teams in red-hot form, heads into Saturday’s contest on the back of a couple of handsome victories, powered by well-oiled units from either side.
For the city, which came under sharp criticism for failing to attract a full house in the World Cup opener between defending champions England and New Zealand, Saturday’s match could witness the 1,32,000 capacity stadium cramping for space.
In response to soaring bookings of tickets, flight and hotels, officials announced special train services to ferry more fans to the venue and celebrity entertainment before the match. Thousands of security personnel will be deployed near the venue to ensure full-proof security for the high-tension game.
This is a game like no other. After all it’s India versus Pakistan, the mother of all cricketing rivalries.
And on top of that this is the first game in seven years, India is hosting the arch-rivals at home. Since the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, both teams have faced off only in ICC tournaments, thus adding more flavor to the game.
Unlike the other teams, where players get to rub shoulders with each other as part of their respective franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan players are barred from the cash-rich league, turning the contest into a battle between unfamiliar opponents, ready to give their best shot in cricket’s biggest platform.
From the tournament’s perspective, both teams have opened their campaigns in style, winning their initial couple of games. While India opened their World Cup campaign with a win against Australia and Afghanistan in contrasting conditions of Chennai and Delhi, respectively, Pakistan on the other hand, were based out of Hyderabad for more than 10 days and emerged winners in both their matches against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
Despite the two victories, India will also hope for the return of in-form opener Shubman Gill, who hit the nets for 30 minutes on Thursday after recovering from a bout of dengue. The team management is yet to come clear on Gill’s availability for the contest. The right-handed opener has been in ominous form throughout the season, slamming five hundreds, including a double ton.
Barring Shubman’s spot, India are likely to retain the same batting line-up with Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer, gaining in confidence from their outing in Delhi, while it could be a toss-up between Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur, depending on the pitch conditions and boundary dimensions in Ahmedabad. Going by the previous outing at the stadium, India could be tempted to prefer the experience of Ashwin.
On the other hand, Pakistan will be riding high from the record chase against Sri Lanka in their previous encounter but these are unchartered territories for the side. A minor blip could affect their morale and eventually cost them the contest, in what could be one of their first experiences of playing in front of a partisan crowd. And the motivation from the two wins could only fade away in a matter of minutes.
For Pakistan, the game will be a golden opportunity to prove that their chasing abilities are no longer a fluke, if they manage to handle the pressure against the gun fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.
Babar Azam will also expect his run-drought to end as soon as possible, while also hoping for his run-machines of Abdullah Shafique, Mohammed Rizwan and Saud Shakeel to continue in the same vein. Pakistan’s famed bowling unit led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, will also hope for redemption after being tonked for plenty by the Sri Lankans in their last face-off.
But again, this is India vs Pakistan, and when the doors of the stadium are opened on Saturday, the odds are stacked against Babar Azam & Co, and it will be a good test of their character if they manage to end their ODI World Cup duck against India with support of what could be just a single speck of green among the strong ocean of raucous blue.