New Delhi: For sports enthusiasts it just cannot get bigger than this Sunday. Two epic battles are on the cards as India lock horns against Pakistan on the cricket field, and also clash against each other on the hockey turf.
Those who are following the Champions Trophy closely know that the Men in Blue beat Bangladesh in the semi-final on Thursday to set a date with their arch rivals in a blockbuster clash this Sunday. The Indian hockey team led by Manpreet Singh on the other hand will also take the field on Sunday against Pakistan in London in the Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals.
India have had a wonderful run in the Champions Trophy which is presently being staged in England and Wales. They started off by beating Pakistan in the first group game. The match was played at Edgbaston where India batted first and piled a mammoth score of 319. Pakistan never quite got into the game and eventually fell short by 124 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
But in the next game, India were stunned by Sri Lanka. Having batted first, the Men in Blue got past the 320-run mark, but the score wasn’t enough as the Islanders chased it down quite comfortably with seven wickets to spare.
Virat Kohli and his men knew they had to win the next game against South Africa to reach the semis. In the virtual quarter-final Kohli and his men came roaring out of the blocks. They first bowled out South Africa cheaply for 191 and then chased the total down the target with 8 wickets in hand.
In the semis, they met neighbours Bangladesh and once again Kohli’s men were at their clinical best. All through the game they did not allow Mashrafe Mortaza’s men to have a foot inside the door. India first bowled them out for 267 and then overhauled the total with 9 wickets to spare.
Pakistan have also had a fantastic run in the tournament after the loss to India in the group stage, and Sunday’s final will be a mouth-watering clash for fans.
On the other hand the hockey teams will be battling it out at The Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals. In the first game, India thrashed Scotland 4-1. They will play Canada on Saturday and then lock horns with Pakistan on Sunday. India is currently ranked 6th in World Hockey, while Pakistan are 13th. Teams who qualify from this tournament will play in the HWL finals which will be held in Bhubaneswar.
There used to be a time when India playing Pakistan in hockey was considered as fierce a rivalry as it is in cricket now. But those days are gone now. Nonetheless, both teams will be out there wearing the national jersey and hopefully the Indian boys will win the double over Pakistan in England and give the fans back home a reason to smile.