PM invites Zardari, Gilani to watch India-Pakistan semis in Mohali

Zeecric Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the country`s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final in Mohali on March 30.

"I propose to be at Mohali to watch the World Cup semi-final match between India and Pakistan to be held on 30th March," Dr Singh said in a letter to President Zardari.

"There is huge excitement over the match and we are all looking forward to a great game of cricket that will be a victory for sport. It gives me great pleasure to invite you to visit Mohali and join me and the millions of fans from our two countries to watch the match," he said.

"We welcome the invitation," Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said.

"The PM is out of the country and a decision will be taken when he (Gilani) returns from Tashkent," Babar said, shortly after the Indian government extended the invitation to the two Pakistani leaders.

Reacting to the news, former chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Shahryar Khan said it was a welcome move by the Indian prime minister and hoped that the Pakistani leaders accepted his invitation.

India’s quarter-final win over Australia set-up a dream semi-final between India and Pakistan on the green Mohali pitch that will decide on who would get a final shot at cricketing immortality.

Arch foes with a bitter political past, India and Pakistan make for a fascinating cricketing rivalry which stokes passions, sometimes to inflammable levels, on both sides of the border whenever the two teams clash.

Shared history -- albeit bitter -- only adds to the emotional quotient of Indo-Pak contests where victory and defeat is not just a result but a matter of national pride.

Many cricketers have admitted to being at their wit`s end while trying to deal with the pressure of playing Indo-Pak contests and the stage does not get bigger than the World Cup semifinals.

The potentially explosive clash in Mohali on March 30 is the first match between the two neighbours on Indian soil after the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai which led to snapping of bilateral cricket ties between the two nations.

They have faced each other in four World Cup matches in the past and India have come out trumps on all these occasions even though Pakistan have a clear edge in the overall record, winning 69 of their 119 clashes so far.

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