Dubai: A full house of 25,000 will brave the heat and humidity at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday to watch India and Pakistan square off in their Asia Cup group league tie and renew one of the biggest sporting rivalries in the world.
Tickets have been sold out days in advance, despite the fact that there is every likelihood of two more of these marquee contests coming up later in the tournament — one in the Super Four stage on September 23 and then another potential one in the final.
There was a buzz at the Pakistan practice session at the ICC Academy grounds on Tuesday about the possibility of Prime Minister Imran Khan stopping by to attend the match.
While Khan was scheduled to stop over only in Abu Dhabi, the speculation forced skipper Sarfraz Ahmed to say: “It’s quite motivating to hear that he may be here.”
The Dubai Sports City authorities, when contacted, denied any knowledge of his visit so far.
The last time they met in a 50-overs contest was in the Champions Trophy final last year where Pakistan won in emphatic style. The onus will be on India to turn the tables in the Asia Cup, but Indian skipper Rohit Sharma played down any such hype.
“It’s always exciting to play Pakistan, but this tournament is not about one match alone,” Sharma said earlier.
The match has been always such a big ticket event that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has admitted to working their fixtures in such a manner that the two at least play once in the group league. The lung opener of the last ICC World Cup in 2015 had reported a global reach of one billion audience.