Pakistan’s players will achieve sporting immortality if they beat India at the Cricket World Cup, coach Mickey Arthur says.
Sunday’s match at Old Trafford is expected to draw a global television audience of one billion people.
“I’m telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero tomorrow,” said Arthur, who called the match the biggest of the tournament.
“Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game.”
There were more than 700,000 ticket applications for the match in Manchester.
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Arthur, 51, added: “You do something incredible tomorrow, you’ll be remembered forever.
“I saw some stats which said the soccer World Cup final attracted 1.6bn viewers. Tomorrow is likely to get 1.5bn. It doesn’t get bigger than that. It doesn’t get more exciting.
“We’ve got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them: How do you want to be remembered?
“You’re the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history? Tomorrow presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark.”
The two countries rarely play each other outside of major tournaments, with India winning their past two meetings in the Asia Cup in 2018, and Pakistan victorious in the final of the Champions Trophy in England in 2017.
India have started well in the World Cup, winning their opening two matches against South Africa and Australia, before their match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge was abandoned.
Pakistan, in contrast, have struggled – beating hosts England but losing to Australia and West Indies.
“We can’t get too emotional,” said India captain Virat Kohli. “Our attention span has to be very precise because we have a split second to make decisions.
“I can’t tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner. They should enjoy the atmosphere. They should enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it’s been enjoyed for years.”
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram was less measured in his assessment of the match, however, billing it as “the biggest thing in cricket”.
“This can’t be bigger,” Akram said. “India and Pakistan playing at the World Cup with an audience of more than 1bn is the biggest thing in cricket, so my message to both sets of fans to enjoy it and stay calm.
“One team will win, one team will lose, so stay graceful.”
World’s biggest cricket bat marks fixture
Among the events being held to mark the fixture was the unveiling of the world’s largest cricket bat in Chennai by India’s World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev.
Indian rapper Divine – a YouTube sensation – was set to perform his viral ‘SockThem’ World Cup-themed song in Manchester on Saturday, while the match will be shown to 3,500 people on a big screen in the city’s Cathedral Gardens on Sunday.
Manchester Airport, meanwhile, is expecting an extra 10 private jets to land as fans from all over the world head to the city.
What’s it like to play in the game?
Former India captain Harbhajan Singh, speaking about the 2011 World Cup semi-final meeting between the two countries: “The memory of that game was I couldn’t sleep the night before, even though I tried my best.
“I was just worried about what would happen if we lost the game. There were a lot of thoughts coming into my mind.
“People get angry and they can do anything. In the 2003 World Cup, we didn’t play one game as well as we should have – against Australia – and people got really angry.
“They were just burning our stuff and throwing stones at our homes. They get a bit emotional.”
What’s the weather going to be like?
Jennifer Bartram, BBC Weather: “Sunday’s weather is going to be a case of dodging the showers.
“Although it should get off to a dry start tomorrow, there is likely to be some disruption at times, with showers on and off throughout the day.
“There’ll be a brisk south-southwesterly breeze, too, which should move any showers through quickly – so the day is not likely to be a washout – but sunshine will be at a premium.
“Temperatures through the day will rise to around 18C.”
- India have won four of their past five men’s one-day internationals against Pakistan. Their loss in that time did come in an ICC tournament in England – the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
- India have won all six of their previous men’s World Cup matches against Pakistan, five of those victories after batting first.
- Pakistan and India have met once before in a men’s ODI at Old Trafford – in the 1999 Cricket World Cup. India won by 47 runs.
- Mohammad Amir returned career-best ODI bowling figures of 5-30 in Pakistan’s most recent match, their 41-run loss to Australia in Taunton. However, he has failed to take a wicket in four of six previous ODIs against India.
- Virat Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs. Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings, but Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.
- Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq has an ODI batting average of 57.2 (1,486 runs) – of players to score 1,000-plus runs in men’s ODIs, only two have a better average: Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate (67) and India’s Virat Kohli (59.5).