India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first in a blockbuster World Cup semifinal against Pakistan that is expected to bring the subcontinent to a standstill on Wednesday.
India made one change to the lineup which beat defending champion Australia by five wickets in the quarterfinals, bringing in paceman Ashish Nehra for Ravichandran Ashwin with the theory that he’ll offer more variety against the Pakistani batsmen who are suited to spin.
Pakistan retained the 11 which thrashed West Indies by 10 wickets in the quarterfinal at Dhaka, opting against a recall for paceman Shoaib Akhtar.
The winner of this match will play Sri Lanka in the final at Mumbai on Saturday.
India has beaten Pakistan in all four previous meetings in World Cups, although Pakistan has won both of its ODI matches against India at this Punjab Cricket Associated stadium.
The match has assumed epic proportions, with the Prime Ministers of both countries utilizing it as a diplomatic opportunity.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation was accepted by his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, adding hype to what is always an intense match between traditional rivals. Both premiers arrived in the city amid heavy security.
Top industrialists, film actors and other celebrities are expected to be among the crowd that has streamed in from various parts of the country and abroad expecting a high-voltage clash.
This is the first time that the teams are playing on either side of the border since a terror attack on Mumbai in November 2008 that India blames on Pakistan. It led to a suspension of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries.
Captains Dhoni and Shahid Afridi have sought to play down the pressure in a game being considered as one of the most important ever between the two teams.
The pitch is expected to be good for batting with a little bounce in it.
Of the 15 day-night games played here before, 10 have been won batting first and five batting second.
India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (captain), Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal.