Mohali soaks in excitement of mother of all clashes

By Jaideep Sarin,

Mohali (Punjab): It is being labelled as the grand finale before the actual World Cup final. The electrifying mood here before the “mother of all clashes” – the India-Pakistan semi-final March 30 – sums it all.Common people, cricket lovers, media and even prominent political figures on both sides of the international border are making a last-minute dash to wangle passes as tickets have been sold out.

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One thing is for sure, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium will be more than a full-house March 30. With every passing hour, the black market prices of tickets are going up by a few thousand rupees.

“The PCA Stadium has got a crucial India-Pakistan match. We are expecting full stands on that day. There is a lot of craze among spectators for this match and our preparations are going on in full swing for this match,” PCA joint secretary G.S. Walia told IANS.

Walia said the PCA could do little about black marketing of tickets.

“We cannot do anything directly in case of black marketing. It is an individual problem. For us, people came, stood in the queues and bought the tickets. We cannot keep track if they sell these in black. It is not under our control. But we will ensure that there would be enough security checks to ensure the genuineness of tickets,” he added.

The ground at Mohali may give India the home advantage, but if one goes by past statistics, Pakistan, the most unpredictable side, are no pushovers.

Pakistan have won two of the six ODIs they have played at the PCA Ground since May 1997 and both victories have come against India.

The last encounter between the two sides was Nov 8, 2007. In a thrilling, high-scoring encounter, Pakistan riding on Younis Khan’s impressive 117 chased down an imposing Indian total of 321 runs with just one ball to spare and four wickets in hand. Many players of the two sides who played in that last encounter here will be pitted against one another again.

Before that, Pakistan beat India comprehensively by seven wickets in their encounter here April 1, 1999.

Out of the 18 ODIs played here since November 1993, India have played nine, winning five.

Pakistan also have the dubious distinction of having the lowest score by any team on this ground. They were bundled out for just 89 runs by South Africa October 2006.

The Mohali crowd will be eagerly waiting for the local ‘prince’, Yuvraj Singh, who has already collected his fourth Man of the Match of the tournament. He was also the hero of India’s superb win over defending champions Australia in Thursday’s quarter-final in Ahmedabad.

“Pakistan are a very unpredictable side. India needs to guard against that. Yuvraj should come good against them also,” budding cricketer Adhiraj Singh told IANS.

In the last India-Pakistan encounter, Sachin Tendulkar got out on 99 runs. This time around, the crowds would want him to complete his 100th international century and become the centurion Sachin.