Both teams go into Saturday’s match having won their two opening matches of the 50-over showpiece event.
Pakistan would be forgiven for feeling like gladiators thrown into the Colosseum when they face an India team egged on by 100,000-plus fans, but skipper Babar Azam sees the match as a chance to end a jinx when they play their archrivals.
Here’s all you need to know about the match:
Who, when, where
It’s India vs Pakistan on Saturday at 2pm (08:30 GMT) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
In One-Day Internationals, the head-to-head record favours Pakistan with 73 wins against India’s 56.
When it comes to Cricket World Cup history, the scale is heavily tilted in India’s favour. Pakistan have never beaten India in the ICC ODI World Cup in their seven meetings.
‘It’s a massive game’
India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, who has often spoken about shutting out the outside noise for a big game, said the team’s focus remains on playing a quality opposition and not on records.
“Yes, it’s a massive game. But for us, what is important is we are playing a quality opposition tomorrow,” he said on Friday.
Rohit said his team weren’t favourites, neither were they underdogs, but they have “momentum” after two wins.
“We’ve got to play good cricket on that particular day to win the game, and that is what we will be focusing on.”
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 13, 2023
‘Records are meant to be broken’
Defiant Pakistan captain Babar Azam has declared ahead of the match that “records are meant to be broken”.
“I don’t focus on the past. Let’s focus on the thing to come as we know records are meant to be broken.”
Like India, Pakistan too have two wins from two matchs at the World Cup after seeing off the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
Azam said he has told his players that the clash inside the 132,000-capacity Ahmedabad stadium is a “golden opportunity” to write their names into World Cup folklore.
“The India-Pakistan match is a big game, high intensity. I have told [the players] it’s the best opportunity to perform. It is a big stadium that can accommodate many fans. It’s a golden opportunity for us to perform in front of these fans.”
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) October 13, 2023
Opener Shubman Gill, who missed the Australia and Afghanistan games because of dengue fever, has rejoined the team in Ahmedabad, and Gill is “99 percent available to play”, according to his captain.
India will also toy with the idea of bringing back off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s batting change against Sri Lanka worked wonders with Abdullah Shafique scoring a fine century on his World Cup debut.
It consigns out-of-form Fakhar Zaman to the bench at least in the short term while also adding strength to the batting lineup that is so dependent on captain Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan.
Rohit vs Shaheen: Rohit has struggled against Shaheen Shah Afridi’s left-arm pace in a duel that began at the T20 World Cup in 2021 when Shaheen trapped Rohit lbw for a duck in the first over with his pace and swing in Dubai.
But Rohit came back prepared when the rivals met in Colombo and remained cautious against the quick despite hitting a six off his first over.
Kohli vs Rauf: The stakes were high when Virat Kohli came up against Haris Rauf in a challenging chase at the T20 World Cup in Melbourne last year but Kohli held his nerve to smash Rauf for two sixes to bring the house down at a packed MCG.
Kohli later said the sixes were “instinctive”, but it began a great battle with the Pakistan quick.
Babar vs Bumrah: Jasprit Bumrah experienced the Pakistan captain’s ability at the last T20 World Cup when Babar took on the Indian attack including Bumrah, a yorker king, with ease.
But Bumrah beat Babar on a few occasions in Colombo before Hardik Pandya got the prized wicket.
Tickets for the match were reportedly sold out within an hour of going on sale a few weeks ago. The organisers released another 14,000 tickets last week, but fans complained that those too disappeared within minutes.
A capacity crowd is expected at the cauldron named after India’s prime minister.
It’s getting crowded in Ahmedabad
Tens of thousands of ticket-holders have reached the western Indian city from all over the world and some are even staying overnight in local hospitals, a cheaper option than hotels.
Local hospitals have seen a sudden influx of patients booked in for check-ups involving a night’s stay to coincide with the most anticipated match of the World Cup.
Several doctors told local media the rush for check-up packages was an ingenious way to find affordable accommodation as hotel costs have soared up to 20-fold ahead of the match.
“We have come across some cases of people coming to watch the India-Pakistan match also taking an appointment for health check-ups and staying in hospitals,” said Tushar Patel, president of the Ahmedabad Medical Association.
Cricket fans were left befuddled when the tournament got under way last week without the fanfare of a colourful opening ceremony.
However, in an equally surprising move, Indian cricket officials have announced a star-studded show ahead of Saturday’s match.
It has left fans wondering why a mid-tournament match is being accorded more importance than the tournament opener.
There’s more to a World Cup than an India Pak match
That’s why it’s called a WORLD CUP
So there’s NO opening ceremony for the first game of the tournament but here we are doing a song & dance technically for a league match
I mean, seriously now…!!! https://t.co/pjiu1nVn5J
— atul kasbekar (@atulkasbekar) October 13, 2023