India and Pakistan renew rivalry with 'Friendship' series

Rival captains Dhoni and Hafeez avoid getting into war of words ahead of opener

Whenever India and Pakistan play a cricket match, there is no shortage of drama to whet the appetite of their passionate followers on either side of the divide.
Emotions run high in the days and weeks leading up to the encounter reaching to a crescendo on the day of the event with the players being looked upon as gladiators.
The resumption of bilateral cricket ties after a hiatus of five years should have a triggered a tsunami-like wave of interest because it won't be just a one-off game but a full series albeit sans Test matches.

But it hasn't really taken off or is it the calm before the storm.

However, there is a silent war raging on in the micro blogging website twitter on #indvpak hours before the opening match.

"First match between India and Pakistan in quite a while... But not sure if i will be seeing the match.. The god not playing #IndvPak #Sachin," tweeted a geek from Kolkata Supratik Majumdar (@supratik94).

"Am I the only one who id (sic) not really exited about #INDvPAK ?" tweeted another Nitin Aggarwal (@im_nits). 

Here are some interesting stats which have been retweeted.

Ajmal tops the bowling list amongst Indian and Pakistani bowlers in T20s with 69 wickets at an avg of 15.82

Saeed Ajmal is Pakistan's major weapon. He has 23 T20 wickets in this year, the most by any bowler. He is also No.1 in T20 Rankings.

Pak bowlers have taken 419 wickets with an exceptional avg of 19.96. whilst India has 237 wks and lies 8th on the table.

There have been scored four 50s in India-Pakistan T20Is, three for India (Kohli, Gambhir, Uthappa), while one for Pakistan (Misbah).

Gautam Gambhir has played all three Twenty20 Internationals b/w India-Pakistan, he twice went for a duck.

Misbah-ul-Haq has hit five sixes in India-Pakistan T20Is, no other has hit more than two.

Pakistan has played more matches in the T20I format than any other side – the first match against India will be its 65th.

The leading Pakistan run-scorers in the T20I format are Kamran Akmal (842), Umar Akmal (839) and Shahid Afridi (813).

Perhaps the most interesting one comes from legendary Aussie legend and commentator Richie Benaud who has posted a picture of Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi with the following tweet:

"Afridi in the Bangalore nets practicing his front foot defensive shot for the upcoming #indvpak (@RichieBenaud_)

India and Pakistan, which last played a bilateral series in 2007, have squared off in multi-national events several times after 2008 but for the first time, a Pakistani cricket team will be hosted for a series since ties were snapped after the Mumbai terror attack.
Matches between these two fierce south Asian rivals transcends the sport and the palpable tension it causes on the combatants is akin to a war-like situation on the cricket pitch.
None other than former Indian captain Kapil Dev felt it that way when he made his international debut in 1978 against Pakistan.
"When I played my first series against Pakistan, it did look like a war," India's 1983 World Cup-winning captain said during a recent TV panel discussion. "In our time, we were expected more to harm the Pakistani players than win a match."
Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis, alongside Dev at the panel discussion, explained the strain players come under.
"My boys even stopped speaking to each other, such was the pressure," Younis said. "People dub it a war. Well, it's certainly not a war. At the same time, it's not just sports either. It is somewhere in between."
Such is the pressure that the Pakistan Cricket Board is sending a psychologist to help the players cope with the current tour.
The two-match T20 and three-match ODI series has been squeezed in between India's ongoing full series against the England cricket team, which has taken a break to go home for Christmas and New Year holidays.
Indian and Pakistan governments used to take advantage of rare encounters between the teams to engage in what has been termed 'cricketing diplomacy'.
However, the 2012-13 series could be dubbed as the 'Friendship' series with the rival captain Mahendra singh Dhoni and Muhammad Hafeez refusing to be drawn into a war of words or play mind games ahead of Tuesday's opening Twenty20 international.
"If you see both the sides, they are quite same. Their ability to play spinners is quite same. I think it will be nice couple of games," said Dhoni looking ahead at the Twenty20 matches.
"Whether we play England, Pakistan, Australia or any other series, for us it is all the same. That is how we look at it and don't really look into who we are playing because that can only increase the pressure. We keep it very simple, whoever the opposition is. We look at the format and try to execute our plans," he added when asked about the importance of playing Pakistan.
Dhoni's leadership has come under the microscope after the latest debacle against England at home where his insistence on producing spin friendly pitches backfired.
India salvaged some pride in the T20s against England after being humiliated in Tests but bowling remains a persistent worry for them in all the formats.
The likes of Alex Hales, Michael Lumb and Eoin Morgan put the Indian attack to the sword during the short T20 series and the Pakistan batsmen would be looking to exploit this weakness of the hosts.
Hafeez refused to take the bait when it was pointed out that he was up against a far more experienced adversary and playing in the lion's den.
"Dhoni is far more experienced captain than me and Misbah-ul Haq. But having said that every captain has to face challenges. My aim will be to see that my side plays without any pressure and express themselves as much they can," he told reporters.
Hafeez is aware that Pakistan is somewhat ring rusty because they have had a long break since the Twenty20 World Cup.
Ironically, India and Pakistan last met in Colombo during the Super Eights stage of the World Cup.
India inspired by a scintillating unbeaten half century from Virat Kohli (78) coasted to victory by eight wickets over Pakistan who were bowled out 128.
But Pakistan had the last laugh when they qualified to the semifinals on a better net run rate than India.
So Pakistan already gained some measure of revenge for the humiliation in Colombo.
Meanwhile, Indians appear to have lost faith in their World Cup winning captain Dhoni.
Sachin Tendulkar's announcement that he was retiring from one-day internationals on the eve of the series has also overshadowed the significance of this bilateral tour.
Nonetheless, there is every likelihood that all hell will break loose, when the umpires call play on Tuesday evening when the first ever Twenty20 international is played at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.   
CricOne brings live the clash of titans

CricOne the region’s only dedicated cricket broadcast channel will bring a ball-to-ball account of the series touted as the Clash of Titans  and end the year on a thrilling note for the followers of the game.

Pehla Media & Entertainment (PME), the largest pay TV platform management company in the Middle East and North Africa, holds exclusive television coverage rights deal for MENA region.


December 25 17:30 India v Pakistan 2012:- 1st T20 Bangalore

December 28 17:30 India v Pakistan 2012:- 2nd T20 Ahmedabad

December 30 7:30 India v Pakistan 2012: 1st ODI Chennai
January 01 13:00 India v Pakistan 2012:- 2nd ODI Kolkata

January 06 10:30 India v Pakistan 2012:- 3rd ODI Delhi

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