The two countries have had a fraught relationship since Pakistan was carved out of India to determine a Muslim homeland when British rule of the sub-continent led to 1947.
They have fought 2 wars over the disputed region of Kashmir, another over the creation of Bangladesh, and that they last came to the brink of warfare as recently as 2002.
On the cricket field, a knock-out World Cup match on Indian soil is that the biggest fixture between the 2 rivals for many years, and also the excitement across the region is already sky-high prior to Wednesday’s clash in Mohali.
After Thursday’s victory over defending champions Australia, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said Pakistan were the final word opponents.
“India v Pakistan within the semi-finals — it doesn’t recover,” he said. “A World Cup hosted by the sub-continental nations and India and Pakistan creating it to the semis.”
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said that “there is not any larger rivalry within the game”, whereas captain Shahid Afridi even expressed hope that a Pakistan-India match “could improve relations”.
The two countries had broken off cricket ties — aside from one or two of volatile check matches in India — for fifteen years before India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2004.
Fierce competitiveness, even hatred, is obvious whenever India and Pakistan play, however recent games have conjointly been marked by a way of cross-border comradeship.
The conflicting emotions replicate the complicated state of relations, that are typically compared to those among an estranged family.
Pakistani flags have often been raised within the Muslim slums of Hindu-majority India throughout games — inflicting predictable outrage.
More strikingly though, the matches in 2004 when the India aspect came back to Pakistan prompted an outburst of affection.
Thousands of Indians were granted special visas to attend the fixtures, and plenty of said that they’d been greeted like long-lost brothers as taxi-drivers gave them free lifts and hotels refused to charge them for rooms.
At the primary game of the tour, in Karachi, the native crowd cheered either side and even gave a standing ovation when India won by simply 5 runs.
The distinction between political and sporting links was once more on show at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last year, when several outsiders were shocked to listen to the Pakistan team given an enormous cheer at the gap ceremony.
Few Pakistanis are expected to form it to the stadium in Mohali, however several scores of fans in each countries can follow the sport avidly on the tv.
Every Indian newspaper front-page on Friday set the tone for the approaching days.
“Bring on Pakistan!” screamed the Mail these days. “Pakistan next check of nerves for India,” said the Hindustan Times.
Whether cricket will facilitate the 2 nuclear-armed nations to slim their variations is unsure, notably as Pakistan struggles with militant suicide attacks, political assassinations and a collapsing economy.
Diplomatic tensions have remained high since Pakistan-based Islamist militants attacked Mumbai in 2008 killing 166 individuals — though the 2 countries’ foreign ministers are thanks to hold talks in Delhi in July.
Fears of another attack can mean a colossal security presence in Mohali, and also the Times of India summed up how the prospect of the sport triggered excitement tinged with apprehension.
“It’s a match fans, organisers and advertisers are fantasizing concerning, and also the indisputable fact that it’ll be Pakistan’s 1st on Indian soil since 26/11 (the Mumbai attacks) lends an additional edge,” it said.
“Fasten your seat belts.”