India and Pakistan will finally meet in the Asia Cup 2010 match tomorrow. Normally this would have been a highly contested affair. But there are reasons why despite the high profiling of an Indo Pak tie, the match itself is not coming on top of high expectations.
That it is not a World Cup scenario is not helping because the focus has shifted to the FIFA World Cup 2010 after disillusioned fans on both sides have decided to give their favourite team a skip, at least on television sets. ( The reason Sri Lanka are enjoying support is because of playing at home. )
Normally an Indo Pak match would be a highly charged affair, with words traded on both sides, not necessarily by teams but certainly by fans. Losing to this opposition was akin to death.
The lack of thaw in Indo Pak relations also means that these encounters then assume monumental proportions where the match becomes so central that sometimes the larger context of something like the World Cup is lost on cricketers as well as fans.
However, rather surprisingly, this contest is perhaps one of the lowest anticipated encounters between the two nations. The Indian team has returned to full strength but their win against Bangladesh could be misleading as to how well they have reoriented themselves to the task after half the squad was rested while the other half was booted out by Zimbabwe in the Zimbabwe ODI tri series.
Pakistan themselves are coming out of a huge showdown at home with administrators and have been embroiled in controversies, so much so that it has taken its toll of their followers. Expectations have, therefore, been rendered low by the resumption of previously uncomfortable relationships.
In the midst of it, the Asia Cup has collided with the football World Cup to allow even the ardent cricket follower to cast a glance at the more interesting sporting carnival that comes once in four years.
An India Pakistan match is still an India Pakistan match and it should help the ailing Asia Cup a little bit of a fillip.