WC blockbuster is here: It`s India V Pakistan
New Delhi: 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.
Even on Indian soil, Pakistan have the upper-hand in record books, having managed 17 wins in 26 matches.
But records and results of the past are never known to make much of a difference in international cricket as was highlighted in India`s five-wicket win over three-time defending champions Australia last night.
Besides, an Indo-Pak clash is always much more than just stats and result.
Tensions run high both on and off the field and players don`t just have to perform, they also have to soak in the intensity of the atmosphere.
And in the World Cup, it seems the Indians do the job better.
The first time these two teams clashed on the big stage was back in 1992 and India was a comprehensive winner by 43 runs in Sydney.
They faced each other again in the very next edition and in a charged-up encounter which had its fair share of drama between players, the Indians romped home by 39 runs.
The script was repeated in 1999 and 2003 as well with India winning by 47 runs and six wickets respectively.
Both the team were eliminated early in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean which didn`t allow them to come face to face in that edition.
But for the fans who call it the `mother of all battles`, the wait has not been too long as the two foes, who have fought wars and traded bitter words in diplomatic circles, face off once again on the biggest stage in cricket.
World Cup games between the two countries
1. India won by 43 runs at Sydney on March 4, 1992
2. India won by 39 runs at Bangalore on March 9, 1996.
3. India won by 47 runs at Manchester on June 8, 1999
4. India won by 6 wickets at Centurion on March 1, 2003.