India bowler Jasprit Bumrah during the match against Bangladesh at...

India bowler Jasprit Bumrah during the match against Bangladesh at the Eisenhower Park Cricket stadium on June. 1, 2024 in East Meadow. India's match against Pakistan Sunday is considered the marquee match-up of the T20 tournament. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The hype started in January, when cricket officials announced the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup would feature “another chapter in the historic rivalry between India and Pakistan.”

Soon after, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman began calling it the “Super Bowl on steroids,” pitching it as a marketing coup for the county, which will host a total of eight matches in a 34,000-seat purpose-built stadium that was erected this spring and is scheduled to be dismantled this summer.

And now the moment has come: Sunday at 10:30 a.m., India, world number one in the compressed, TV-friendly format of cricket called T20, and Pakistan, the world number six, will face off in a group stage match in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Hundreds of millions of fans are expected to watch the match on television.

In this opening stage of Cup play, Pakistan and India were early favorites in Group A, expected to shoulder aside the United States, Ireland and Canada. Each team plays each other once, and only the top two teams advance to the tournament’s next stage.

“Without a doubt, the India-Pakistan match will be the one that will draw the most attention from the cricketing world,” said Clarence Modeste, a historian of the game and president of the Staten Island Cricket Club who lives in Queens Village.

T20 cricket limits each side to 20 overs, giving each side 120 legally delivered balls to maximize its score. That format, along with a power play rule that limits fielding for part of the match, encourages offensive risk-taking.

On the International Cricket Council website, standard seat tickets for $300 are long gone; by Friday afternoon, all that remained were luxury options, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. StubHub, a secondary ticket marketplace, advertised tickets from $629 to $15,300.

India and Pakistan, like much of the cricket-playing world, inherited cricket from their British colonial rulers. They are geopolitical rivals who have fought two wars over disputed territory of Kashmir. They have also, since the 1950s, nursed a cricket rivalry that began in the test format and has continued in the T20 age. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, beating Pakistan; Pakistan won in 2009. India was runner-up in 2014, and Pakistan in 2022. India leads the head-to-head between the two 8-3, according to the ESPN cricket statistics database.

The countries both have professional cricket leagues, and professionals from those leagues now fill their national team lineups. The Indian Premier League, though, is the world’s most lucrative, signing up the game’s stars from around the world for million-dollar salaries and selling broadcast rights in 2022 for more than $6 billion.

But fans who expected an orderly procession toward this showdown — the two giants of South Asian cricket eliminating lesser rivals in group stage play — were confounded. On Thursday, the United States — a nation with no cricket pedigree, playing in its first World Cup — edged Pakistan by five runs in a match played in Grand Prairie, Texas.

An article on the International Cricket Council’s website proclaimed this “one of the biggest shocks in the history of cricket,” including links to corroborating evidence: ESPN's “SportsCenter” led with the news and Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted about it. “Pakistan disappoint,” was the headline in Dawn, the largest English newspaper in Pakistan.

“They were thrashed,” said Ven Rajagopala, an IT professional from Huntington, who supports India and plans to attend Sunday’s match with his son. “They probably thought this was a guaranteed win for them.” Now, though, “the India game is almost a must-win for them. If Pakistan loses to India, two losses in a row, their chances would be very dim.”

Modeste, the historian, noted that Pakistan had won before and could win again. “They have both the talent and the experience,” he said. “One expects Pakistan to pull themselves together.”

Blakeman, speaking at a news conference Thursday, said he planned to take his family to the match and trotted out a familiar phrase, saying it's “obviously, the Super Bowl on steroids.”

The hype started in January, when cricket officials announced the Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup would feature “another chapter in the historic rivalry between India and Pakistan.”

Soon after, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman began calling it the “Super Bowl on steroids,” pitching it as a marketing coup for the county, which will host a total of eight matches in a 34,000-seat purpose-built stadium that was erected this spring and is scheduled to be dismantled this summer.

And now the moment has come: Sunday at 10:30 a.m., India, world number one in the compressed, TV-friendly format of cricket called T20, and Pakistan, the world number six, will face off in a group stage match in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Hundreds of millions of fans are expected to watch the match on television.

In this opening stage of Cup play, Pakistan and India were early favorites in Group A, expected to shoulder aside the United States, Ireland and Canada. Each team plays each other once, and only the top two teams advance to the tournament’s next stage.

“Without a doubt, the India-Pakistan match will be the one that will draw the most attention from the cricketing world,” said Clarence Modeste, a historian of the game and president of the Staten Island Cricket Club who lives in Queens Village.

T20 cricket limits each side to 20 overs, giving each side 120 legally delivered balls to maximize its score. That format, along with a power play rule that limits fielding for part of the match, encourages offensive risk-taking.

On the International Cricket Council website, standard seat tickets for $300 are long gone; by Friday afternoon, all that remained were luxury options, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. StubHub, a secondary ticket marketplace, advertised tickets from $629 to $15,300.

India and Pakistan, like much of the cricket-playing world, inherited cricket from their British colonial rulers. They are geopolitical rivals who have fought two wars over disputed territory of Kashmir. They have also, since the 1950s, nursed a cricket rivalry that began in the test format and has continued in the T20 age. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, beating Pakistan; Pakistan won in 2009. India was runner-up in 2014, and Pakistan in 2022. India leads the head-to-head between the two 8-3, according to the ESPN cricket statistics database.

The countries both have professional cricket leagues, and professionals from those leagues now fill their national team lineups. The Indian Premier League, though, is the world’s most lucrative, signing up the game’s stars from around the world for million-dollar salaries and selling broadcast rights in 2022 for more than $6 billion.

But fans who expected an orderly procession toward this showdown — the two giants of South Asian cricket eliminating lesser rivals in group stage play — were confounded. On Thursday, the United States — a nation with no cricket pedigree, playing in its first World Cup — edged Pakistan by five runs in a match played in Grand Prairie, Texas.

An article on the International Cricket Council’s website proclaimed this “one of the biggest shocks in the history of cricket,” including links to corroborating evidence: ESPN's “SportsCenter” led with the news and Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted about it. “Pakistan disappoint,” was the headline in Dawn, the largest English newspaper in Pakistan.

“They were thrashed,” said Ven Rajagopala, an IT professional from Huntington, who supports India and plans to attend Sunday’s match with his son. “They probably thought this was a guaranteed win for them.” Now, though, “the India game is almost a must-win for them. If Pakistan loses to India, two losses in a row, their chances would be very dim.”

Modeste, the historian, noted that Pakistan had won before and could win again. “They have both the talent and the experience,” he said. “One expects Pakistan to pull themselves together.”

Blakeman, speaking at a news conference Thursday, said he planned to take his family to the match and trotted out a familiar phrase, saying it's “obviously, the Super Bowl on steroids.”

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