March 30, 2011 is a day of major competition in the sporting world's calendar. It is the day when India and Pakistan - two major rivals in cricket, face each other in the semi-final of Cricket World Cup 2011 in Chandigarh, India.
This is an advertiser's dream come true, as the spectacle will be watched by nearly two billion people around the world, third only in viewership to Summer Olympics and Soccer World Cup.
Tensions are high and pressure enormous on both teams. Though this is not the final game, neither side wants to lose. The media hype in both countries is beyond logic, after all this is only a game and only one team can win.
The gambling world (legal and illegal) is in play with full force. Hundreds of millions of dollars (by some estimates half a billion dollars) have been bet on this game. Indian media has made wild accusations that Indian team will lose deliberately because that is what the gambling underworld wants. But that seems rather far fetched and the accusations appear to be quite bogus.
Both teams have played extremely well in earlier stages of this World Cup. No doubt, they will give their all on March 30th. India has played a great deal more cricket than Pakistan in recent years. Also, their star batsman, Sachin Tendulkar is in full form. Pakistan on the other hand has youth on its side. Their bowling has been excellent and their two twenty year old batsmen, Hafiz and Akmal have demonstrated superior skill and mature temprament. Victory will belong to the team that holds its nerve on the day and plays without thinking of all the hype around them.
The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh who has been lacking in peace making efforts with Pakistan of late. However, he has taken a bold step by inviting Pakistani leaders to attend the match. The Pakistani Prime Minister has accepted the invitation, so the cricket diplomacy is back at work again. Hopefully, these two nations can mend their relations on the back of cricket.
The winner plays Sri Lanka in the final on Saturday, April 2. Sri Lanka has just managed to scrape a win over New Zealand in the other semi-final.