‘Friendly Games’ have advantage as India take on Pakistan in cricket

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BIRMINGHAM, England, July 31 (Reuters) – The Commonwealth Games like to be called the “Friendly Games” and until Sunday even Indian and Pakistani cricketers had bought into the idea.

Women’s cricket is making its Games debut in Birmingham and because of that, there has been a pioneering all-for-one camaraderie built into the competition, curtailing what is arguably the most intense rivalry in world sport.

But with a path to the medal round opening up for the winners, the brotherhood was sidelined at Edgbaston Cricket Ground as India beat Pakistan, who remain winless and dropped to the bottom of the group standings HAS.

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Chasing 100 to win the rain-shortened game, India hit their mark with 38 balls to spare as Smriti Mandhana crushed an unbeaten 63 to secure an eight-wicket victory.

Earlier Pakistan overcame the loss of Iram Javed for a duck as fellow opener Muneeba Ali hit a 30-ball 32 but a slump meant they were limited to 99 in their 18 overs.

Having both lost their opening game of the Games, India and Pakistan arrived at the stadium knowing that another defeat would end any medal hopes, giving more weight to a game that never has. need.

“Whenever we have the opportunity to play against Pakistan, we always want to do well,” Indian Harmanpreet Kaur said. “That game was very important to win, not just because it was Pakistan.”

THIN HOPES

India can clinch a semi-final berth with a win over Barbados in their final Group A game on Wednesday while Pakistan need a win over Australia and plenty of help in the game scenarios. tiebreaker to keep their slim hopes of advancing.

The top two teams from the group will be joined in the final four by two of Group B consisting of England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

While the rivalry between India and Pakistan centers on men’s cricket, women fully understand its importance and their growing role in it.

With Birmingham renowned as one of Britain’s most diverse cities with large Indian and Pakistani communities, the crowd at the Edgbaston Oval was the biggest at the tournament.

The atmosphere outside the ground on a rainy morning was more of a family outing than the hysteria that usually follows a gathering of men as fathers and mothers with children enjoy themselves.

“It’s just a match in the end but a good match”, sums up a father in an Indian jersey accompanied by four young girls.

The opportunity was not lost for players or fans, the cheers were loud and constant.

In the end no one left Egbaston and set themselves on fire, as distraught fans have done in the past when the results were not there, but the smiles on the faces of the Indian supporters indicated that their return trip was going to be a high. beat one.

“It’s always a special feeling when you play against Pakistan but I would like to say it’s just another game and not like, ‘ohhhh Pakistan,'” Sneh Rana said. “But it’s still a good game.

“It’s a special feeling.”

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Reporting by Steve Keating in Birmigham, additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar, editing by Ed Osmond

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