India v Pakistan: 1 billion fans set to tune in for Cricket World Cup mega-match

The latest edition of one of the fiercest rivalries in sport plays out this Sunday when India and Pakistan meet in the Cricket World Cup in England, in a showdown expected to attract up to 1 billion fans to their TV sets.

India versus Pakistan is a match imbued with the cricket obsessions of both countries' populations, but also the broader rivalry between the two neighbors.

That will be transported to a foreign field on Sunday when the pair meet in their 2019 ICC World Cup group stage game at Old Trafford, Manchester.

The magnitude of the game is hard to exaggerate, and will generate interest to rival any other sporting event this year, including the American extravaganza of the Super Bowl and the recent UEFA Champions League final.

Television audiences of up to 1 billion people are expected to tune in as India, a cricket-obsessed nation of 1.3 billion, plays Pakistan, a nation of 200 million who are equally as enamored with the sport.

Added to that, the large number of Indian and Pakistani fans in the UK will ensure the atmosphere at the famous 26,000-seater Old Trafford ground is just as fervent as if the game were being played in Hyderabad or Lahore.

Tickets for the match were reportedly the most requested of the entire tournament – including the final – and had 500,000 applications.

Unless the two teams should meet again later in the tournament at the knockout stage, the game will be the biggest of the entire two-week event in England.

The run-up to the game has added spice to the encounter, after a World Cup advert in Pakistan provoked anger by parodying a video of captured Indian airforce pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down when tensions flared over Kashmir ealier this year.

Also on Pakistani ad mocks video of downed Indian pilot as rivals prepare for World Cup match

Indian wicketkeeping star MS Dhoni, an honorary lieutenant colonel of the Indian territorial army, has also been told by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to remove the insignia of the Indian special forces which he had sported on his gloves.

Pakistan, meanwhile, can count on the support of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former international fast bowler and cricketing legend.

READ MORE: Pakistan suffer woeful World Cup defeat despite message of support from cricket legend PM Khan

Two-time tournament winners India are favorites heading into the match, and have two wins and one no result from their three matches so far, after their planned clash against New Zealand was washed out this week.

They are led by national icon and global cricketing megastar Virat Kohli, and batsmen Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been in the runs at the tournament so far.

Their bowling attack boasts spinner Yuzvendra Chahal as well as medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.

One-time winners Pakistan went into the tournament on a disastrous run of formRead More – Source