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India to support pak in Pak-Aus to meet in CT
While relations between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India are tense off pitch, some fans and cricket greats hope the Champions Trophy will bring the nations closer.

Come Wednesday, Indians will be cheering for a Pakistan win against Australia in the Group A clash of the Champions Trophy in South Africa, a victory that could also propel India to the semi-finals.

If Pakistan wins at Centurion, arch-rivals India -- currently third in their group -- may sneak through to the semi-final on points.

"It is interesting. The whole of India will be praying for a Pakistan win for a change," said former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja.

"I think it's a God-given opportunity for both the countries and with Indian fans praying for a Pakistan win, I hope that both the countries take this opportunity to come close to each other."

Pakistan, who have never won the biennial Champions Trophy, qualified for the semi-finals after beating the West Indies by five wickets and India by 54 runs in victories that sparked jubilation across Pakistan.

India, who shared the Trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002, are battling to remain in the tournament after their important match against Australia was rained off at Centurion on Monday, resulting in a draw.

Australia, the defending champions, have three points to India's one.

While Raja remains positive, some of his country's fans may be hoping for a Pakistan loss to deny India a run at the championship, while others are itching for the excitement of a potential India-Pakistan final.

"I wish Pakistan beat Australia and then we have an Indo-Pak final and we beat our rivals once again," said fan Arsal Siddiqui.

Former paceman Sarfraz Nawaz hopes Pakistan do not go easy on Australia.

"It's India's fate and I would celebrate if India goes out of the event," said Nawaz. "But Pakistan must beat Australia to carry a winning momentum."

Regardless of the outcome Wednesday, Raja hopes for a resumption of the Pakistan-India bilateral series, which New Delhi called off after blaming Pakistan-based militants for the Mumbai attacks last November.

The attacks further strained tensions between the neighbours, and stalled a fragile four-year peace process between the South Asian foes.

"It is for the good of international cricket that Pakistan and India continue to play each other," said Raja.

India were due to play three Tests and five one-day matches in Pakistan this year.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt said earlier this week that he was pushing for a revival of the India-Pakistan series, and said he had assurances from the International Cricket Council that it could be held on neutral ground.

The two countries, which gained independence from British rule and split in the 1947 partition, have fought three bitter territorial wars.

India and Pakistan's foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting last week, generating hopes for a resumption of stalled peace talks.

But the shadow of Mumbai loomed heavy, with India's SM Krishna urging his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to speed up investigation of Pakistani militants responsible for the siege which left 166 people dead.

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