Some estimates suggest Sunday’s match between the sub-continental cricket giants at the Oval in south London could attract a worldwide television audience of more than a billion viewers.
Title-holders India will be firm favourites against a Pakistan side who were the lowest ranked of all the teams taking part in a tournament featuring the world’s top-eight one-day international sides.
It was only on June 4 that India launched their title defence with a 124-run rout of Pakistan at Edgbaston.
Yet even by their own “unpredictable” standards, Pakistan’s transformation since that reverse has been remarkable and on Wednesday they knocked previously unbeaten tournament hosts England out of the competition with a comprehensive eight-wicket win in Cardiff.
Pakistan have yet to play a match at the Oval this tournament but in bowling coach Azhar Mahmood, who spent several seasons at his “second home” playing for Surrey, they have someone familiar with all the vagaries of the London ground.
And the former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood insisted all the burden of expectation was now on India’s shoulders.
“We’ve got nothing to lose — the pressure is more on them,” Azhar Mahmood told reporters at the Oval on Friday. “They are ranked higher than us – so everyone is talking about India, India. But I can tell you one thing — we have come to win.”