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Wasim Akram urges fans to tone down emotions ahead of India-Pakistan clash
Pakistan News

Wasim Akram urges fans to tone down emotions ahead of India-Pakistan clash

Pace bowling legend Wasim Akram has advised fans to stay calm during the high-stakes World Cup encounter between Pakistan and India at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The age-old rivalry among the two cricket nations will be renewed as Wasim has termed Sunday's clash as "the biggest match of the World Cup".

However, in the midst of flaring sentiments harboured by fans on both sides of the border, Wasim outlined the importance of enjoying the match as it is rather than aggravating the situation and projecting warlike emotions.

"This can't be bigger," Wasim told AFP on Friday. "India and Pakistan playing at the World Cup with over a billion audience is the biggest thing in cricket, so my message to both sets of fans to enjoy it and stay calm.

"One team will win, one team will lose, so stay graceful and do not take this as a war. Those who project this match as war are not true cricket fans."

The venue hosting arguably the most anticipated match of the tournament has been sold out with tickets now being sold on the black market at extremely high prices.

'Pakistan can beat India through controlled aggression'

Former Pakistan captain Wasim acknowledges the fact that any contest between the two sides has an immense amount of pressure on the players involved.

"Who can realise the pressure more than me?" said Wasim. "I used to look forward to a match against India because it brings the best out of the players from both the sides."

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Pakistan have an embarrassing record against India in World Cups, having lost all their six games against the arch-rivals, but Wasim reckons things could turn around for his country on Sunday.

"Pakistan can beat India through controlled aggression," said Wasim, who was at the receiving end of three World Cup defeats to India.

He was ruled out of the fateful 1996 quarter-final clash which India ultimately beat Pakistan by 39 runs.

"Yes, I don't have fond memories of the World Cup matches against India but I have enjoyed all these matches over the year as fans are glued to television wherever they are. It will be like that again on Sunday," he said.

A battle of nerves

Wasim admits India's strong start to the tournament boosts their confidence in the batting resources but he emphasized on Pakistan's unpredictability tag, which could enable them to trump their neighbours just as they did in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

"Yes, India have a strong batting and bowling line up but Pakistan can match them. When it comes to India and Pakistan game the team that handles the pressure well wins the day," he said.

"I surely hope that rain stays off. Fans want to watch a full matches, intense and lively so we all hope that rain stays away."

India have remained unbeaten so far in the World Cup, cruising to victories over South Africa and Australia while their game against New Zealand was subject to persistent rain and was eventually called off.

Meanwhile, Pakistan sit in a spot of bother occupying the eighth position on the points table after defeats from the West Indies and Australia and a washout against Sri Lanka as their sole win came against tournament favourites England.