The World Cup fever has begun with the 12th edition of the World Cup starting from 30th May 2019. Among others, one of the most awaited game over the years has been the game between Arch-nemesis India and Pakistan. The first of India vs Pakistan Rivalry is scheduled in the group stage of the tournament on 16th of June.
An India – Pakistan sporting rivalry, there is nothing like it. Any sport – If India is going up against Pakistan there is bound to be massive interest in both countries. Be it Kabaddi, Hockey, Volleyball or football. We don’t like losing to them and vice-versa.
The biggest manifestation of this rivalry is the India Pakistan cricketing rivalry. There are reasons for it.
Cricket, apart from easily being the most popular sport in both countries, is also the sport where both teams are counted amongst the top in the world and have won world events quite regularly. Thus it’s only natural that fans from either side want their team to score over the other.
The games themselves are hotly contested. Players may say that a game against each other ‘is like any other game’ but even they know that’s not true. Just turn on a television set (or surf the internet on your mobile phones as most of you would do) and listen to how ex-players talk about the rivalry and how much winning that game meant.
India vs Pakistan – More than just a game
There have been times when in spite of not doing well in a global tournament, the teams and fans alike have a sense of satisfaction that they won the game against the old rival. We will all be lying if we said that although India did not do well in the 1992 and 1999 world cups, it didn’t feel great that at least India beat Pakistan in those 2 world cups. Many an Indian cricket fan will rate the India – Pakistan match in 2003 world cup as one of their favorites. This is a satisfaction unlike a win over some of the other top teams like England and Australia.
There is a political tinge to this rivalry which adds to the aura around it. Whenever the two nations have a political misunderstanding or skirmish – it impacts the scheduling of cricket matches between the two games.
The ICC has sensed this Golden egg opportunity too. That’s why no matter how you draw the lots – India and Pakistan invariably end up in the same group in global events – here is a sample of events where India and Pakistan have been in the same group
- World cups – 2003, 2015
- Champions trophy – 2009, 2013, 2017
- World T20 – 2007, 2012, 2014, 2016
You will notice how often these two teams are in the same group, particularly since 2007. Since the events of 26/11/2008 – India and Pakistan have not played a bi-lateral series against each other, thus the appetite for India Pakistan games is only satiated in ICC evens or Asia cup events. So, it’s not surprising that these two teams meet at such events quite often.
India vs Pakistan – The Rivalry Itself
Post-Independence, first India – Pakistan series took place in India in 1952 when Pakistan toured India. The hosts won the 5 test series 2-1. When India lost one of the test matches in the series, there was a huge public outcry. This outcry had a big impact on the psyche of the players from both sides for generations to come who realized that if they lost to the other team; they would be vilified for a long time. Thus Test matches between the two teams usually resulted in both teams playing very defensively in order to avoid defeat. The stats reveal this. There have been 59 tests played between the two teams with 38 draws. Both teams have won 4 series each and 7 series have been drawn (Pakistan also won a test in India in Kolkata in 1999, but that was not part of a series but part of the Asian Test championship)
59 tests over such a long period of time also show that there have not been very many test series between the two teams and that has to do with the relations being strained between the two nations. Whenever there have been tensions or wars between the two countries, playing cricket against each other has been a no-no.
Test Matches between the two countries have often been about India’s batting might against Pakistan’s bowling greats. Over the years a dual between the likes of Gundappa Vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Jimmy Amarnath and Sarfraz Khan, Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir was savored by all. With time the duel was the same but the actors replaced by the likes of Sachin, Azhar, Dravid, and Sehwag on one side with Wasim. Waqar, Shoaib Akhtar, and Saqlain on the other.
Some memorable Test matches over the years:
1987 – Bangalore – It was Sunny and then there were the rest. Both teams got out cheaply in the first innings and Pakistan did marginally better in the second to set up 220 odd runs for India to chase. Only Sunil Gavaskar stood tall for India, negotiating everything that was thrown at him with comfort that belied the eyes. He got out on 96 and India fell agonizingly close.
1999 – Chennai – Control C, Control V of the 87 Bangalore Test?. You could say it was. Pakistan won the toss, low scores, tense chase and in the end, Pakistan won by 12 runs. Sachin played the role Gavaskar played in 87.
1999 – Delhi – The Kumble 10 – a record that can never be broken, at best equaled. Kumble did it in the 4th Innings of the test. Set a huge total, Pakistan were trying their best to survive in the Delhi cold until Kumble got on a roll. After Kumble took the first six wickets the other bowlers started bowling deliveries wide of the stumps.
2004 – India in Pakistan – Perhaps the best series between the two sides – India was touring Pakistan after a gap of nearly 15 years and boasted of a strong team of batters that included Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dravid and a bowling line-up with Kumble at his prime and a couple of very good young fast bowlers in Irfan Pathan and L Balaji. Sehwag bulldozed Pakistan with a triple century in the first test and Dravid did the same with a 270 in the third test to ensure an Indian win in both the matches.
Since 2007, these two nations have never played a test match against each other, meaning that modern greats like Kohli have not had a chance to be involved in the test rivalry.
The Limited Overs Rivalry
If you look at the stats, again, Pakistan has the lead, winning 73 of the 137 ODI matches played between the two teams. ODIs between the two teams became popular in the 1980s and early 1990s when Pakistan clearly had the better team. Whenever bi-lateral series between the two sides could not be played, the organizers resorted to matches at ‘neutral’ UAE (though it seldom used to be Neutral, having huge backing for Pakistan) where Pakistan usually came up on top. These Sharjah tournaments were held very frequently and usually involved a third or fourth team to make a proper tournament out of it.
A couple of standout games – in 1985 India defended a low total of 125. Asked to bat on a tough pitch, India were dismissed cheaply thanks to a 6-14 by Imran Khan. However, the Indian bowlers came up with a fine performance and dismissed Pakistan for 87 to win the game. Then there was the Miandad six, hit in the final of the Australasia cup in 1986. Requiring 4 runs of the last delivery, Miandad duly smashed the ball for a six and forever became a Pakistani Hero and Indian villain. The bowler of the delivery, Chetan Sharma must have also realized that no matter what he did thereafter, he would always be remembered as the guy who got tonked for 6 against Pakistan.
Then there were a few series held in Toronto, called the Sahara cup, which will be most remembered for Inzamam Ul Haq attacking a spectator in the crowd for calling him a potato and for one particular series in 1997 where Ganguly almost single-handedly destroyed Pakistan with both bat and ball to hand India the series 3-1.
India vs Pakistan – Rivalry in ICC and Asia Cup events.
The Indian team dominates the statistics here.
In the 1992 world cup India scored an unlikely and rare win against Pakistan who went on to be the eventual champions. An Ajay Jadeja blitzkrieg in the 1996 world cup QF in Bangalore ensured another India win. The 1999 world cup match was an emotionally charged affair thanks to the backdrop of the Kargil war. In 2003, a Sachin Tendulkar led counter-attack, which was clinically closed out by Dravid and Yuvraj allowed India to chase down an imposing target against a mighty Pakistan bowling attack.
The 2011 WC semi-final, although not a classic match, was keenly contested and highly watched due to the prize at stake of the game and the players involved.
The 2015 WC match had an electric following, even though in the end it finished as a one-sided victory for India. The match had record viewership.
In the Champion’s trophy – Pakistan won comfortably in 2009 and India returned the favour in 2013.
Pakistan scored an upset victory in the CT final in 2017 after losing in the group stages, but the Indians got their revenge in the 2018 Asia cup, blanking Pakistan both times the teams met in the tournament, even without the services of Kohli.
The likes of Dhoni, Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are the architects of India’s recent success against Pakistan.
T 20 World Cup
As far as T20s are concerned – again India dominates the stats having suffered only 1 loss. The most famous T20 games between the two teams came about in the 2007 Inaugural World T20.
They played each other in a group match of the 2007 edition and it was their first ever meeting in a T20 game. On a cold overcast evening in Durban – India were put into bat and made a modest total. Pakistan began well, then lost their way and it was looking like India was going to win. Stepped in Misbah ul Haq and started teeing off on the Indian bowlers to put Pakistan back on track. As things would turn out, the match ended in a tie and India won an interesting ‘bowl-off’ (a short-lived concept, which was shortly replaced by the super over).
The final of the event was also played between these two sides and followed a similar script to the group match. Misbah was again the protagonist who led the Pakistan recovery in the chase and had victory in sight before he tried an audacious (needless) ramp shot to finish in style only to end up getting caught at short fine leg in the final over leaving India victors by 5 runs in the final over.
In the End
The rivalry has recently lost some of its sting given the fact that the Indian players, much like the country’s economic superiority, have been superior on the field as well. Due to reasons beyond control Pakistan is unable to play ‘home’ matches at home starving it of much needed fanatical home base support. It is also unable to host India thus being deprived of a vital source of Income such a series will generate. Their board recently tried to sue the Indian cricket board (unsuccessfully) for compensation because India refuses to play them. But don’t let that fool you, wait till the world cup in England in 2019, where these two teams will square off again… behold the frenzy then, just you wait!