On Sunday, India will meet Pakistan in the final of the Champions Trophy, an international cricket tournament played once every four years.
Tournament favorites India cruised to the final Thursday, beating Bangladesh by 9 wickets in Birmingham, England, while Pakistan secured their spot a day earlier, winning by 8 wickets over hosts England.
Current reigning champions India comprehensively defeated Pakistan by 124 runs in their opening match of the competition — an event that drew in a TV audience of over a billion.
Considered one of the fiercest rivalries in sport, Sunday’s fixture in London is expected to exceed previous audience figures, potentially becoming the most watched sporting occasion of all time.
It’s a dream final for both fans and cricketers alike.
The rivalry between the two neighboring countries dates to 1952, just five years after independence, when India and Pakistan played their first test series.
Since then, India and Pakistan have played 15 Test series and 17 One Day International (ODI) series.
But increased political tensions, including recent skirmishes along the border and a pending case at the International Court of Justice, have limited their meetings in recent years.
Prior to this summer’s Champion’s Trophy, Indian Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters that India would not play Pakistan in any future non-tournament fixtures, while cross-border “terror from Pakistan” remains.
“Terror and sports cannot go hand in hand,” Goel added, referring to ongoing violence in the disputed Kashmir region.
Sunday’s match up will be the first final between the two sides in a decade, following 2007’s nail-biting World Twenty20 final that saw India defeat Pakistan by a mere five runs.
The result maintained India’s dominance over their rival at major competitions. To this day, Pakistan has never beaten India at the World Cup.
Former cricketers from both Pakistan and India took to Twitter to support their former teams.
A consistent India vs a resurgent Pakistan
Though they’re the favorites to win, Indian captain Virat Kohli has been quick to not underestimate a resurgent Pakistani side.
Since Pakistan’s crushing defeat against India on June 4, they have recovered well beating South Africa, Sri Lanka and England to reach the final.
“No one is a winner beforehand, and you can’t predict anything in this game. Regardless of who you play in the finals, it’s always going to be challenging because once you start thinking that it’s a big game, then your mindset changes,” added Kohli.