Guwahati:All eyes will be on the first one-dayer between India and Pakistan. If you are a cricket fan, get ready for a roller-coaster ride starting on Monday.
There's nothing bigger than India taking on Pakistan that too at home. Guwahati is where MS Dhoni and his men kick start their campaign against Shoaib Malik's outfit in the 1st ODI. And, it seems, that friendship, and not rivalry, is the theme for this series.
That things are fast changing in Indo-Pak cricket rivalry was evident in Guwahati on Sunday. Just a day for the mother of all the battles to begin, but there was no trademark tension on show amongst the players from both the countries.
"Match situation is different but off field, we are friends with them. It feels good if you talk nicely to someone," said Shoaib Malik, Captain, Pakistan cricket team.
Talking nicely was something certainly missing during India's recent series versus Australia. But, perhaps a contest with the world champions at home before taking on Pakistan was the best thing to have happened to MS Dhoni and his men.
"If the last series that you have played is against a tougher side then obviously you raise that performance bar," said MS Dhoni, Captain, Indian cricket team.
"In the coming series, if you play against a team of equal power and equal temperament then obviously it all comes to the team which team plays better cricket on that day," he added.
A look at the head-to-head statistics show that Pakistan have a better win loss record against India in ODIs, both overall and on Indian soil. But, it is the Men in Blue who have held an upper hand since 2006, winning five of the seven matches versus the arch rivals.
Virender Sehwag has played a major role in improving India's track record against Pakistan in recent times. In a squad with four openers, Virender Sehwag is most likely to make the cut on Monday.
"It's a contest between Sehwag and Gambhir, we will decide tomorrow morning," said MS Dhoni, Captain, Indian cricket team.
The camaraderie among the players was indeed a heartening sight amidst the tight security arrangements here in Guwahati.
A significant indication perhaps that both these teams have risen above the burden of traditional rivalry and will play the game in the spirit it is meant to be played in.