Licking fingers in anticipation

There is an indescribable joy that a sports writer experiences when watching the twists and turns of a cricket Test match and expressing them for the reader. The high-voltage drama of one-day internationals offers the sports writer a different test. And now Twenty20 has come to stay at the international level, bringing along a whole new challenge for the reporter and analyst alike.
How does one describe a match in which there are 18 sixes, 36 fours and 413 runs scored – and all this in less than 40 overs and inside three hours? Should a writer look at the finer aspects of any one person’s game or should the focus be on just the broader picture? I guess with a bit of time, writers will find a way to keep pace with the brief adaptation of a magnificent game.
One thing hasn’t changed, however. In the run-up to the maiden India and Pakistan match in Twenty20, a group D match at the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 tournament, the teams have been constantly reminded of the needle that usually comes along with bilateral contests. On the way to the stadium, scalpers have left their mobile phone numbers offering tickets for the game.
There is no question that talk of pressure is inevitable when the teams involved are India and Pakistan, no matter where they play one another. From the time India and Pakistan reached this eastern coastal city in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the players have been constantly reminded about the game on Friday.
“Of course, there is pressure,” said Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik. “Whenever we are playing India, there is added pressure since it is a huge game. We don’t want to lose any game, irrespective of who we are playing, be it India, Scotland or Australia. We just want to give off our 100 per cent and not lose any game in any format.
“We made some mistakes in the game against Scotland and we cannot afford to commit the same mistakes a second time,” Malik said. “I am satisfied with the way we bowled. We made some mistakes with our fielding but I must say we got lucky to make 171 against Scotland. We will sit together and evolve a good plan for the match against India.”
India’s young side does not have as much time to think about Friday’s match with Pakistan since it was slated to play Scotland on Thursday. “We will start looking at the game against Pakistan only after we complete the opening match with Scotland,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “It would be foolish to dismiss Scotland as a no-hoper. Every team has a chance in Twenty20.”
Dhoni and Malik have tried hard to explain to everyone that the World Cup disaster is water under the bridge. “We will all be better off if we forget what happened in the West Indies and focus on the game on hand,” Dhoni said, when he was asked if the game would make up for the missed match up between India and Pakistan at the ICC World Cup earlier this year.