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Intikhab Alam plays down the hype

Intikhab Alam: The Pakistan team manager, has sought to downplay the hype and expectations surrounding the India-Pakistan semi-final in both countries, saying that inevitably, one of the two teams would have to lose at the end of the game. "In both the countries, there are very emotional people. Both teams cannot win and somebody has to lose," Alam told PTI in Mohali. "But whichever team loses should lose gracefully. We have to give that positive message."

The highly-anticipated clash has already led to reports of hotels running out of rooms in Mohali and tickets for the game selling for more than ten times their original cost, as fans from both countries scramble to be at the PCA Stadium on March 30. The Indian prime minister is also expected to be there, and has invited the Pakistani prime minister and president to join him.

Alam, however, made an appeal for nationalistic fervour in both countries to be toned down ahead of the game, saying that all the hysteria was needless. "Let it remain as cricket and don't make us feel as if we are standing on a warfront," Alam said. "We don't want to pressurise our players."

Pakistan haven't played a game in India since 2007, after bilateral cricketing ties were suspended in 2008, and Alam agreed that playing the semi-final in India was a big event. "This is a blessing that we have come here to play cricket in India. This of course, is a special occasion, but I feel we should be playing more often."