New Delhi: Defending champions India will be aiming to shut out off-field controversies when they lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in their ICC Champions Trophy opener — a marquee contest where tension and drama is never in short supply.
It would be an understatement to suggest that the relations between the two neighboring countries are at their lowest ebb. With a high-profile case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav dominating the headlines of both the countries’ newspapers and skirmishes across the Line of Control (LoC) becoming a daily reality, there’s clearly no love lost between the two cricketing mad nations.
To that end, it may be paradoxical that a sense of calm pervades the India-Pakistan cricket clash in Birmingham under ICC Champions Trophy 2017, especially within the two camps. One reason for this could be that the focus of television cameras and newspapers has been so much on what is or is not happening between captain and coach that little thought has been given to the cricketing opposition.
Virat Kohli is at the peak of his popularity, certainly in terms of the products queuing up to be associated with him. Yuvraj Singh was literally mobbed when he walked out of a practice session at Edgbaston. R Ashwin is at the top of his game after a bumper home season.
The fans, expected to be skewed well in India’s favour, will go at each other with all they have, the security outside the ground promises to be at an all- time high and out in the middle the players will be doing all they can to keep calm and carry on.