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India-Pakistan contests have lost intensity over years, says MS Dhoni

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MS Dhoni (left) and Mohammad Hafeez (right) feel India-Pakistan contests have lost their edge © Getty Images

Mirpur: Mar 20, 2014

From the days of Javed Miandad and Sachin Tendulkar, India versus Pakistan cricket matches over the years have seen unforgettable moments — a few funny and some controversial.

This is one marquee clash that fans from both sides of the border eagerly await as much as the cricketers who are in the thick of things.

Legendary Sunil Gavaskar in his popular book ‘One Day Wonders’ had written that Pakistan was one international team against whom he would never walk even if he knew that he was out unless the umpire raised his finger.

Gone are those days though.

Ask rival captains Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mohammed Hafeez, you will get a vibe that the intensity of the Indo-Pak rivalry has mellowed down even though the teams rarely play each other apart from ICC tournaments.

For Dhoni, “playing in right spirit” is far more important than crossing the line while Hafeez wants to maintain that there’s more to the ICC World T20 than one particular match.

“Well, India versus Pakistan game will always be intense but I believe it has mellowed down over the years. Nowadays, you won’t find altercations like it used to happen when the players of the last generation played,” Dhoni replied asked about the waning popularity of clash between the arch-rivals.

“We used to get tensed watching those matches on TV when we were young. There used to be plenty of action happening apart from cricket. It’s good it’s not happening nowadays. You don’t want to cross the line. If we want to promote the game in a right way, then we should play in right spirit,” he said.

Hafeez was asked what he felt about the Pakistan fans who want his team to beat India tomorrow regardless of winning or not the coveted World T20 trophy.

“It’s great to know the expectations of the fans but we would like to win the World T20 Trophy. For that we need to start well and win tomorrows match. Boys will do well if they take one match at a time. But we are certainly looking forward to this game,” said Hafeez.

With two thinking captains on either side, it’s unlikely to see tomorrow a Mohammed Shami giving a send-off to a Pakistani batsman like Venkatesh Prasad did to Aamer Sohail in Bangalore or Umar Akmal doing an impromptu spot-jump like Javed Miandad did imitating Kiran More in Sydney.

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