World Cup Diary: Fancy an India-Pakistan semis at Eden still?
Michael Vaughan’s post on X stokes the possibility, but Pakistan must win against New Zealand first
"India vs Pakistan semi in Kolkata anyone?" read a teasing X post by former England captain Michael Vaughan on Thursday, setting Kolkatans thinking. A repeat clash of the one on 14 October is within the realms of possibility, but there are also too many ifs and buts in between.
The semi-final line up, as things stand, pits the table topper against the no. 4 finisher in the first one in Mumbai on 15 November, while the second semi-final in Kolkata the next day is a face-off between the second and third place holders. However, if by any chance India and Pakistan run into each other in the semis, then it will be played at Eden as per the earlier caveat.
While India is in pole position to take the top spot with 14 points from seven wins, the late scramble for the fourth semi-finalist's spot has opened up some exciting possibilities. New Zealand, who have slipped to fourth position after a big loss to South Africa in their last game, are suddenly looking vulnerable and if Pakistan (fifth) can turn the tables on them in a crucial game in Bengaluru on Saturday, then India's traditional arch rivals are very much in with a chance.
A seven-wicket win over Bangladesh on Tuesday has suddenly given Babar Azam’s men a lifeline after four losses on the trot. If Pakistan can win their remaining two games, they can move to a maximum of 10 points while the Kiwis will have to lose both their remaining games to be stranded at eight points and slip out of the reckoning.
The task is hence cut out for Pakistan, but for someone like Sohaib Akhtar, it’s too premature a thought. ‘’These things have spoilt us in the past Vaughany,’’ the former speed merchant said in a cheeky response to Vaughan's post. A clearer picture will emerge after this weekend’s matches.
Meanwhile, the temperature is soaring in the City of Joy in anticipation of the high stakes India-South Africa game on Sunday. Ticket prices in the black market have soared through the roof, while a large number of members of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) have been extremely vocal at being "denied" their usual quota of tickets for an international game.
Things have come to such a pass that Kolkata Police have launched a probe on the basis of an FIR lodged by a fan, and made a few arrests. What has also added fuel to the fire is a sound byte from Sourav Ganguly, both a former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as well as CAB president.
"These tickets are BCCI’s responsibility and CAB has nothing to do with it. The state association, despite receiving fewer tickets this time, has distributed 3,000 tickets to the affiliated clubs," he told assembled local media on Thursday.