Do one billion people really watch India-Pakistan games?
Not quite. The estimated viewership for the 2017 Champions Trophy final was around 400 million. The group game in the same tournament was watched by 324 million people, slightly more than the 313 million that watched the group game in the 2015 World Cup. The 2011 World Cup semi-final remains the second-most watched cricket game in history, with 495 million viewers.
Is this game really 'bigger than the semis and final'?
Only if India don't make it that far. It's no secret that a large percentage of global cricket viewership comes from India, but it's not true that Indians will take watching an India-Pakistan group game over an India knockout match. More Indians watched the India-Australia semi-final in the 2015 World Cup than the India-Pakistan group game. And in 2011, the India-Sri Lanka final was watched by 558 million people, making it the most watched cricket game in history.
Forget the viewership numbers. Has this rivalry lost steam in terms of competitiveness?
We'll let the stats tell the story here. In the last 10 years, India have won nine of the 14 matches between the two teams, and six of those victories have come by margins of more than 50 runs or five wickets. The matches Pakistan have won have also been mostly one-sided games, including the Champions Trophy final, which they won by 180 runs.
In contrast, India and England have won six each of the last 12 ODIs between the two teams. Their last two bilateral series have been hotly contested with three tight matches in India, in 2017, followed by a battle of spin in England in 2018. Against Australia, India have won 10 and lost 11 ODIs in the past five years, with each team winning away series earlier this year.
Have there been any close India-Pakistan games at all recently?
You'd have to go back to the 2014 Asia Cup, when Pakistan scored 13 off the last over to win by one wicket, with two balls to spare. Shahid Afridi was the hero with his 34 off 18 balls, which included two sixes in the last over. Before that, the last bilateral series between the two teams, in 2013, produced a low-scoring thriller in Delhi, though the match was a dead rubber as Pakistan were 2-0 up in the three-match ODI series.
Is this a mismatch? Are India too strong for this to be considered a rivalry?
India were already favourites going in to the 2017 Champions Trophy final, but after losing it, they have gotten stronger, thanks in part to the addition of two wristspinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. Since that final, India have won 10 of 12 ODI series (including the 2018 Asia Cup) and have had a win-loss ratio of 3.076. Pakistan have not built on their Champions Trophy success and have won just two of the eight series or tournaments they have participated in since that win. They have have had a win-loss ratio of just 0.695 and came in to the World Cup on a 10-match losing streak.
The ICC team rankings table has India 29 rating points ahead of Pakistan, which is the same as the gap between Pakistan and 10th-ranked Afghanistan.
What's gone wrong for Pakistan since the Champions Trophy?
Their star of that tournament, Hasan Ali, has had a torrid year. He's averaging 90.16 with the ball and going at 6.32 an over in 2019. Mohammad Amir couldn't buy a wicket last year - he averaged 100.66 with the ball - and his selection for this World Cup was in doubt. With the bat, there has been an over-reliance on the top three, with none of the middle order batsmen averaging more than 36 since the Champions Trophy.
It's worth noting, though, that Amir's form has been much better during this World Cup - he took 5 for 30 in Pakistan's last match - and both Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfaraz Ahmed have found their touch in the middle order.