LIVE India v/s Pakistan, Adelaide, Pool B: India win toss, opt to bat first

Sudhir and Bashir, who have become national icons for their enthusiasm for cricket, can well sum up the essence of India-Pakistan sporting rivalry
Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary and Mohammed Bashir at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday

You will struggle to find a pair of fans who can sum up the essence of India-Pakistan rivalry more emphatically than Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary and Mohammed Bashir.

You know of Sudhir — Muzaffarpur native, Sachin Tendulkar devotee, painted face, painted body, conch shell and all that. Bashir, on the other hand, is from Chicago. His family runs a very successful restaurant, Ghareeb Nawaz, on Devon Avenue. He has suffered three heart attacks. He is also diabetic and carries a plethora of medicines with him at all times.

Both made their presence felt at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Sudhir was the first to arrive. No sooner than the Indian team started its match-eve preparations the 34-year-old made his way to the enclosure right below the Sir Donald Bradman pavilion. Within seconds, he took off his shirt

and revealed his extremely lean, well-toned physique replete with tri-colours and an emotional ‘Miss-u Tendulkar 10’ message on his back. Out came the flag and that conch shell too. Basically, Sudhir was in his element.
“India khele aur hum nahin aaye; kya kabhi aisa ho sakta hai? (India playing and me not coming; has it happened ever?)” he asks with a wink. The subject of dna’s JBM cover story (A decade of worship: Sachin Tendulkar’s biggest fan…) in October 2013, Sudhir then took out a letter from his bag. “See this! Boss wrote a letter on my behalf,” he said. The ‘boss’ in question was Tendulkar. And the letter was addressed to the visa officer of the Australian embassy in New Delhi.

“Dear Sir, I am writing to confirm that Mr Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary has been an ardent supporter of the Indian Cricket Team and has become a national icon due to his enthusiasm,” Tendulkar wrote. Providing details of Sudhir’s sponsors, he requested the officer to provide his biggest fan with a visa for the entire duration of the tournament. “I got visa in just one day,” Sudhir said. Soon, he was the most wanted man at the Adelaide Oval. The Indian team took a backseat.

About an hour later, Bashir appeared out of nowhere. Sporting a free-flowing green jubba with the words “Jis desh mein Ganga behti hai, us desh ki meri biwi hai (My wife hails from the land where river Ganga flows). Bashir took short, painful steps towards the practice area. “Has Dhoni arrived?” he enquired. When one answered in the affirmative, he said, “He is the one who gives me tickets. Everytime. He has been blessed with a baby girl. God willing he will win lead India to World Cup win again. Par kal toh jeetega bhai jeetaga, Pakistan jeetega (But tomorrow Pakistan will win),” It was a lesson in voice modulation.

Soon, the enclosure was brimming with fans of both countries. Mothers, grandmothers, children, grandchildren, boys, men… there was everyone. It was sloganeering at its intense best.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

Bashir then spoke about his wife, who hails from Hyderabad. “She is everything to me. But she keeps telling me “why do you get embarrassed. Every time India will win,” he said.

Bashir and Sudhir then joined the rest of the fans outside the stadium where they celebrated with dhols and what not. “This time there will be Diwali in Pakistan,” Bashir said.

“Yeah sure, but next year. Is baar toh jeetega bhai jeetega India jeetega (this time India will win),” Sudhir retorted.

A hug sealed the issue.

Welcome to the LIVE coverage of the match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan

8:37 IST Sunday, 15 February 2015

Younis Khan will open the batting for Pakistan, says Misbah.

It’s time for the toss. Dhoni spins the coin. Misbah calls heads, and it’s tails. India win the toss and Dhoni says they will bat first.
8:28 IST Sunday, 15 February 2015

It’s almost time for the toss.

Shane Warne feels the pitch is really dry and really good for batting. A huge score is possible, he says. But there will also be a lot of bounce. The wicket will take turn later in the day.

The fans of both sides are really enjoying themselves:

8:27 IST Sunday, 15 February 2015
Here’s the gist of what everyone feels about this clash:

8:10 IST Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Pakistan team is in a huddle. The Indian team is making an appearance in the middle.

Sunil Gavaskar is dissecting Virat Kohli’s technical issues. Kohli doesn’t have a great record against Pakistan. Wasim Akram is leading him on.

In the other game in Hamilton, South Africa are 84/4 against Zimbabwe. Who said it would be a cakewalk? Are Zimbabwe going to be the giant killers of this World Cup? They beat Sri Lanka in a warm up game.

Defending champions India are all set to play their first match in the 2015 World Cup against arch-rival Pakistan in Adelaide Oval. To say, that Team India is going through a bad-patch will be an under statement. After nearly three months in Australia, the team looks jaded and often devoid of idea when put under hammer by the opposition. Yet Team India will try to keep a clean slate and maintain the unbeaten record it enjoys against Pakistan in World Cup matches.

For that to become a reality, the batting line-up needs to fire. Much will depend on the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, who are all match winners in their own right and are known to come good in crunch situations. Yet, Virat Kohli is the biggest weapon India possesses to numb the formidable Pakistani bowling attack. It is a matter of concern for the team that Virat Kohli and Captain cool MS Dhoni haven’t really played to their potential in the limited over fixtures in the lead- up to this World Cup. Indian batting has to provide a cushion for the bowling, which looks listless in absence of Ishant Sharma. Even though MSD said that all players are fit, there is a gloom of shadow over availability of prodigal swing bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. India is likely to go for two spinners in Ashwin and Jadeja. Shami and Umesh Yadav look to be certainty. Stuart Binny will probably chip in as the bowling all-rounder.

World Cup: No injury issues in the team, clarifies captain MS Dhoni

Pakistan on the other hand possesses a formidable bowling attack led by Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz. Absence of Ajmal though is a big blow for 92′ cup champions. The batting is a blend of youth and experience but it betrays a certain vulnerability which can be exposed by Indian bowlers if they manage to get some early breakthroughs. Over-all, both teams look evenly matched and finally it may well boil down to a battle of nerves than skill.

Misbah-ul-Haq positive that history and records are bound to change after Indo-Pak clash

From the time fixtures for World Cup 2015 was announced, the match-up between arch-rival India and Pakistan was touted as the marquee match of the tournament. It is predicted to attract the largest number of television audience ever for a game of cricket. But will the actual match live up to its high-profile billing or will it be a scrappy affair between two mediocre sides. For team India it has been a long summer with very little to show for their efforts. A win on Sunday will be a magic potion to heal all the wounds and get the World Cup campaign rolling.