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Cricket's biggest rivalries

One thing that makes sports really interesting is the diverse rivalries it presents. Sports itself is made of rivalries and competitions but there are certain rivalries that stand out among the rest and catches our eyes. The Federer – Nadal rivalry in tennis, and the Manchester UnitedChelsea rivalry in football are some of the standout examples of such special rivalries that not only stand out and grab our attentions, but is also something that we all cherish.

Cricket likewise is no different and special rivalries exists in the gentleman’s sport. The Ashes and the India – Pakistan rivalries are two such special ones that always manage to catch all headlines and get that something special from both the players and spectators alike making the game all the more interesting.

The Ashes

The test rivalry between England and Australia is termed as ‘The Ashes’ and is known to be cricket’s greatest rivalry.  The rivalry started in 1882 is one of the most celebrated rivalries in sport’s history and is now played biennially.

The rivalry is named as the Ashes after an obituary in the English newspaper – ‘The Sporting Times’ appeared in 1882 satirizing England’s loss to Australia at the Oval.  It was the first time England lost to Australia and the obituary mourned the death of English cricket and said that the ashes would be flown back to Australia. The next series was dubbed as the ‘Quest to regain the Ashes’ and a small urn was presented to the English captain by a group of women that contained the ashes of one of the bails used in the Oval Test and hence ‘The Ashes’ was born.

Australia has been the more successful team in the Ashes in history, though in the past few years, England have changed the tide.  In the modern times, the 2005 was one of England’s most memorable wins as it ended a 18 year old drought. England did go down 5 – 0 in the 2007 Ashes, but they fought back and won the next two with the most recent being the 2011 Ashes.

Cricket’s history lies mingled with the Ashes and most of the legendary names from both the English and Australian sides such as Don Bradman, W.G. Grace, Herbert Sutcliffe, Shane Warne and Wally Hammond are ones who performed well in this rivalry. Also, the infamous body-line series that marred the spirit of the game was an Ashes series that England won thanks to their ungentlemanly way of playing.

I always enjoy watching the Ashes and one of the things that gets me every time is the amount of love that the cricket lovers of these two countries have. Especially when their team is touring, they always manage to turn up in large numbers and the last Ashes was a prime example of that where in some stadiums, you could see more members of the Barmy Army than the Australian public!

Ashes is definitely one of my favorite contests and I’m sure it ranks as number one for any cricket lover in Australia or England.

The Indo – Pak rivalry

India and Pakistan’s rivalry is strongly connected with the birth of these two countries. With India attaining independence and the partition of India resulting in the creation of a Muslim state, Pakistan, there started an intense rivalry between these two countries and that carried over to cricket and hence we have the Indo – Pak rivalry.

Perhaps no other cricket match gets as much viewers as an India – Pakistan match and these matches have also been used as cricket diplomacy in trying to mend the strained relationships between the two countries.

Pakistan has been the more successful team but however in recent times, it’s been the Indian team that has come out on top.  India have never lost a World Cup match against Pakistan and they have met 6 times in the World Cup (counting the T20 world cup).

One of my favorite moments without a doubt would be the 2007 T20 World Cup held in South Africa where the two nations met in the epic final!  It was a match worthy to be called a final and even in the last over, I remember having my heart in my mouth and praying for an Indian victory. Likewise the 2011 semi-final clash also is another one that would be forever etched in my mind.

Being an Indian this definitely catches my attention and every time India and Pakistan meet in the cricket field, the entire media goes crazy and act as if they are covering a war between the two nations!  That is how much the rivalry means and a win against Pakistan is always something special and likewise a losing to them is just that much more painful.

These are the two major cricket rivalries, however in recent times, we have had the rise of the India – Australia rivalry.

Indo – Aus rivalry

The rivalry between India and Australia started out in 2001 when India defeated them in dramatic fashion coming from behind and winning the tests at Kolkatta and Chennai.  Since then, they have met each other quite regularly and have met more than once in World Cups including the 2003 WC finals. These are two highly competitive teams and when they clash, there is bound to be fireworks. The two teams play for the Border – Gavskar trophy in test cricket.

India’s 2007 series down under was marred and everything but cricket took centre stage. However, the off-field incidents such as the racism row, the sledging and others just added petrol to the fire and kindled the rivalry.

I was really looking forward to the series earlier this year but that turned out to be as one sided as any series can be, with India going down 4-0 in the tests and not even managing to reach the finals in the CommonWealth Bank tri-series.

Rivalries always make the game more interesting and memorable and these are just the big three in cricket.

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