It's the contest for continental supremacy played on a global stage. It's the mini-title game of the World Cup group stage for more than 1 billion people in two cricket-crazed countries — the nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.
India has won all six times the countries have met at the World Cup, but Pakistan has won more of their one-day international meetings overall — 73-54 — and caused an upset two years ago with a victory in the Champions Trophy final against its greatest rival.
India responded by comprehensively winning both head-to-head encounters at last year's Asia Cup. Sunday's venue at Old Trafford in Manchester will be swamped with fans from around the globe to witness the highly anticipated clash in the quadrennial tournament.
As India lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan, here some key battles to look out for in Manchester.
The classic rivalry between bat and ball. Virat Kohli has been troubled umpteen times by Mohammad Amir but the explosive batsman has also replied by smashing the ball all over the park in recent years. Kohli may have missed out on India's previous encounter with Pakistan during the Asia Cup (2018), but the Indian captain will hope to avenge his wicket which he lost in the 2017 Champions Trophy finals as the two teams square off. While Amir has been Pakistan's backbone this World Cup which includes a fifer against Australia, the pacer has claimed 10 wickets in three matches, where as Virat Kohli scored a 82, his best score so far in the tournament against Australia as well. It will be quite interesting and nail-biting as well to see the two prolific players squaring off.
Wahab Riaz vs Rohit Sharma
The southpaw can be dangerous with the new ball and under overcast conditions, Wahab Riaz can be any batsman's worst nightmare. However, with India deputy Rohit Sharma showing patience and temperament this tournament, the contest between these two will be interesting as well. Rohit does get nervous under under overcast conditions when the ball starts to turn and does have trouble against left-armers, but the Indo-Pak clash does bring the best out of every player and the HIT-MAN proved that when he slammed a ton against South Africa in India's World Cup opener on a difficult pitch.
Fakhar Zaman is no stranger to the Indian attack and the 2017 Champions Trophy ton against the Men in Blue has been haunting Virat Kohli and Co ever since. The opener scored a dazzling hundred to help Pakistan score 338/4, but the result could have been quite different if Jasprit Bumrah had not overstepped when the opener was on three. However, the past is the past and the No.1 ODI bowler will be gunning for Fakhar's wicket in the clash. Bumrah has been sublime with the ball while Fakhar has struggled with the bat so far in the tournament. It will be quite nail-biting to see the two face off.
Yuzvendra Chahal vs Hafeez
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is the player India look to whenever they need a wicket and he has delivered. The leggie has claimed 6 wickets in two matches played and it will be highly crucial to claim the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez, who has been in stellar form so far with the bat and ball. He has scored 146 runs in three matches played and can be a handful as well. Virat Kohli will look up to his spinners to collect wickets in the middle overs and who knows best than Chahal. The battle between these two will be pretty interesting to witness.
Hardik Pandya has been solely picked out as the all-rounder is the person who can change the entire outcome of the match with the bat and the ball. He has been knocking the ball into the stands since the 2019 IPL and Pandya's blistering 48 off 27 deliveries against Australia is a warning sign for the Men in Green. Also, Pakistan will also keep in mind when Pandya nearly changed the game with his 76 off 43 deliveries in the 2017 Champions Trophy finals. It all comes down on June 16 as the two cricket dominating countries lock horns in Manchester.