Friday, April 01, 2011

India vs Pakistan: A Rivalry Review

SALES PROMOTION FEATURE: This is a chapter from my book on the World Cup (available on Flipkart at 35% discount - nudge nudge wink wink!), which could be relevant in the light of the semi-final. 
Before the Final, I will post the chapter on the Longest Names in International Cricket, which is monopolised by our worthy rivals!

India and Pakistan were part of one nation at one point of time, which charges the atmosphere both ways when they face each other on a sporting arena. Both the teams have been blessed with great talent down the ages and that has led to nail-biting contests. Unfortunately, due to political reasons, there were often large periods when there were no sporting ties between the nations.
There has been hatred. Supporters said that it did not matter if their team lost a tournament as long as they defeated the other. Conversely, there have been effusive gestures whenever the two countries played. When India toured Pakistan in 2004, a banner borrowed a Hindi film title to proclaim, “Pyaar to hona hi tha”.     

Pakistan is considered to be the fount of some exceptional fast bowlers – among the best in the world. India – quite symmetrically – is home to some of best batsmen of modern cricket. Be it Imran Khan versus Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar versus Shoaib Akhtar, the competition has always been intense in an India-Pakistan match. And the atmosphere electric.

In the playing history of the two countries, three matches can be identified at which there has been a shift of momentum. These matches have come about a decade apart and have been representative of the cricket that was played in the subsequent years.
In the initial years of ODIs (till April 1986), there was very little ODI cricket that was played between India and Pakistan and the honours were equally shared.

Total Matches
India Win
Pakistan Win
No Result
India Win %
Till 17 April 1986
16
8
7
1
50%

18th April ’86 
In Sharjah, the finals of Australasia Cup saw the first tectonic shift. Javed Miandad hit a six off the last ball of the match when four runs were required. With that one shot, Javed Miandad tilted the balance decisively in Pakistan’s favour for nearly a decade. Whenever Pakistan played India, they seemed to have a psychological edge that often weakened a superior-on-paper Indian team. Especially in Sharjah (the venue of that shot), India seemed to have a terrible record against them. 
India (245/7 in 50 overs, K Srikkanth 75 in 80 balls, Sunil Gavaskar 92) lost to Pakistan (248/9 in 50 overs, Javed Miandad 116 in 114 balls).

Total Matches
India Win
Pakistan Win
No Result
India Win %
18 April ’86 to 8 March 1996
25
4
20
1
16%

9th March ’96 
India defeated Pakistan in an electrifying World Cup quarter-final after Ajay Jadeja playing the innings of a lifetime and the Pakistani middle-order was not able to capitalize on a blistering opening partnership.
In a very symbolic result, India beat Pakistan – which was also Javed Miandad’s last ODI. Till the moment he was there, there seemed to be hope for Pakistan, however hopeless the Required Run Rate looked. With his departure in a run out, India swung the momentum – not only of the match but for future face-offs as well.
India (287/8 in 50 overs, NS Sidhu 93, Ajay Jadeja 45 in 25 balls) defeated Pakistan (248/9 in 49 overs, Saeed Anwar 48 in 32 balls, Aamer Sohail 55 in 46 balls).

Total Matches
India Win
Pakistan Win
No Result
India Win %
9 March 1996 to 28 February 2003
44
17
25
2
39%

1st March ’03 
Yet another World Cup match, which was billed as the battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar and settled in the second over of the Indian innings when the Master Blaster derailed the Rawalpindi Express.
18 runs came off the over (1w-0-1-0-2w-6-4-4) and it gave India enough momentum to tide over some mid-innings jitters to win yet another battle of nerves. After Sachin’s departure, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh took India to victory quite easily, with nearly 5 overs to spare.
Pakistan (273/7 in 50 overs, Saeed Anwar 101, Zaheer Khan 10-0-46-2) lost to India (276/4 in 45.4 overs, Tendulkar 98 in 75 balls, Yuvraj 50*, Dravid 44*)    
Post this match, there was one more movement of the momentum towards India as their success record improved even further.

Total Matches
India Win
Pakistan Win
No Result
India Win %
1 March 2003 to end-2009
33
16
17
0
50%

Also, with more and more matches being played between the countries, the camaraderie has improved.
The pressure to win was still there and a match with Pakistan still had that must-win edge. But we enjoyed it more!

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What? Still not impressed enough to buy the book? What rubbish?
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