The India vs Pakistan ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash in Manchester on June 16 is termed as the marquee clash of the tournament. However, the match is currently under a cloud following the Pulwama terror attack which resulted in the death of 40 CRPF jawans on February 14. The attack resulted in massive outrage from India and from the cricketers. Cricket Associations in Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have removed photos of Pakistan crickets while the Cricket Club of India (CCI) has covered the photo of former Pakistan skipper and current Prime Minister of the country Imran Khan.
However, the Pulwama attack has apparently not dampened the enthusiasm of the cricket fans, it seems. ICC World Cup tournament director Steve Elworthy, during a promotional event in London, said that demand for tickets for the Indo-Pak group league clash is way more than Australia vs England game or the final at the Lord's. "The India vs Pakistan game, we had over 400,000 applications for tickets, which is an incredible number. The stadium (Old Trafford) only holds 25,000 people. So, there are a number of disappointed people. That's just locally, but (there is also) the audience globally," Elworthy was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.
In fact, the former South African pacer then provided the numbers which is an indicative that how much the match means for world cricket's governing body. "To put that (number) in perspective, England vs Australia was around 230-240,000. And the final was around about 260-270,000 applications for tickets. So that gives you a bit of perspective for the demand for this match (India v Pakistan). It's a big game. They could end up playing each other in the final (too), you never know."
The outrage over the Pulwama terror attack continued with India legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal calling for decisive action. “This should settle once and for all. We can't tolerate it any longer,” Chahal told India Today. “Every three months we get to hear about our jawans losing their lives to terrorism and we can’t keep waiting for things to happen. It’s high time and we have to make things happen and we should settle this face to face, even if that means aar paar ki ladaai.”
Chahal’s quote comes on the backdrop of Harbhajan Singh who had said India need not play Pakistan in the World Cup. “There is no need for any relations with Pakistan, let alone cricket. Don't play the World Cup match with Pakistan on June 16 -- country comes first for all of us and we are all standing with our forces. I don't care about losing points,” Harbhajan had said earlier.
Speaking on India TV’s cricket show, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly said the sentiment of people asking for the game against Pakistan in the World Cup should be respected. “I feel the government should take strong action on this issue. The aftereffect of this should be strong from India,” Ganguly said.
BCCI sources also said they are waiting for instructions from the government. “Situation will get clearer after some time, a little closer to the World Cup. ICC has nothing to do with it. If the government at that point in time feels we shouldn't play, it's obvious that we won't play," unnamed BCCI officials have said.