Great Cricket Rivalries: India vs Pakistan
A ‘war’, according to Oxford English Dictionary arises with a ‘hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state’.
Yet when cricket acts as the intermediary between the two nations of India and Pakistan, billions of hearts race together, apprehensions running across their mired faces, as if the end of their days has come. Their only desire is the want of the win of their national team against the rival. What more can a war give?
Each successful shot and wicket by a player of their nation resounds in the billions of claps throughout their respective countries. Even a dot ball, a catch and a great fielding effort is admired and applauded for. And when any player commits a mistake, he bears the brunt and ill wishes of billions. A hero or a villain can be produced in seconds here, and though the hero can bask in his glory for years to come, the villain is hounded to his home and has to lead a secluded life away from public glare. This is India-Pakistan cricket, a game which is a life to the people. A game which people breathe in, day in and day out, and live by it. And this is what we are going to talk about here, the spirit of Indo-Pak cricket..
The common history and the differences
It is said; ‘speech is silver, silence is golden.’ Yet what is golden is left behind when the silver lining of a win doesn’t seem plausible.
The fear of defeat that each match brings, the chivalrousness the players portray, the animosity in the middle which arises and the vivacious environment around is not for the faint-hearts. Each match that has transpired between these two rivals – India and Pakistan, has been a talk of the nation in both their countries.
“Lose to any team you want,” Pakistanis often say, “but never lose to India.”
Two young nations, born together but grew separate, with different ideologies, varied disputes, mired distrust and an enmity which runs deep into the veins of their people. Yet not everything is different between the two nations. People on both the side love Bollywood, eat similar food, listen to qawwali [music] and enjoy cricket thoroughly. But, political vendetta and desire to establish one’s supremacy over the other has made these two nations lock horns with each other far too often. And cricket acts as a perfect medium for showing one’s supremacy over the other.
Throughout the decades, rulers and people of both the countries have looked at cricket as the medium to vent their frustrations, and while many other sports may have suffered because of it, cricket matches between the two have been attended by even the prime ministers and presidents of both the countries.
Cricket between THE two
Right from when the journey started between the two teams on 16th October 1952 in Delhi, each match has been known for one or the other ‘incident’. Incidentally, that first ever test match between the two fierce rival nations finished within three days itself ,with India gaining a upper hand and winning by a margin of an innings and 70 runs.
After that followed draws after draws for ten matches. It was only in the 1978-79 series that Pakistan, after 26 years, won its first ever test match against India. Pakistani cricket, till the 1970’s looked bleak in comparison to India. The fortune though, was soon about to change for Pakistan.
The Beginning of Pakistan Domination –Imran Khan
A legend made his debut against England at Birmingham in 1972. Imran Khan – the man who would later become the Iron grip of Pakistan and the glue which held the team together made started his international journey that day. Suave, erudite and a heart-throb for the girls, this man was one of the greatest all-rounders the world ever had after Gary Sobers. His right arm fast bowling and elegant batting was an adrenaline injection into the Pakistani team then. He transformed a mediocre side into world-beaters who finally won the World cup in 1992.
In 1987, he led Pakistan to its first ever test series victory over India. With players like Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Inzamam-Ul-Haq by his side Pakistan metamorphosed itself into a world beating side during the 1980’s. It is for this era that Pakistan now leads India in the number of wins in both Tests (12-9) and ODIs (69-47) and has an unbeaten record in Champions Trophy matches.
Memorable Clashes Which Pakistan Won:
All India-Pak encounters are void of peace but here are some demolishing moments by Pakistani cricketers on India:
1. 1986 Australasia Cup, played in Sharjah
A hero and a Villian…
Pakistan required 4 runs of the last ball in the match. Pakistani supporters from all around the world were tensed and fearing the worst, while Indian supporters were hoping to just let this one ball go through the batsmen somehow. Chetan Sharma, the then famous Indian bowler, bowled a low full toss to Javed Miandad, and he hit it for a six. This instance remains etched in the memory of all Indians. It made Chetan Sharma a national villian in the eyes of Indian fans. Javed Miandad though, became an instantaneous national hero for Pakistan.
2. Chennai 1997
Saeed Anwar’s knock
This was a night for Saeed Anwar. It is here that he smashed an unbeaten 194* against India – a record that stood for many years until Sachin Tendulkar reached the magical 200* mark recently against South Africa. Regarded as one of the greatest Pakistani innings in an ODI, Pakistan had no problem bagging that game.
3. Third and final match of the 1997 ODI series
The day when Ijaz Ahmed’s showed Indians his amazing abilities
The series was level at 1-1 and Indians were going along pretty well in the last match to bag the series. But Ijaz Ahmed had other ideas in mind. He completely dominated the Indian bowling attack smashing 139* off only 84 balls. The onslaught included 9 sixes and 10 fours and enabled Pakistan chase down a target of 216 in a mere 26.2 overs with 9 wickets remaining. It was was one of the most humiliating defeats for India.
4. 15 April 2005, 5th ODI, Kanpur
When Shahid Afridi got going…
It was one of the days made exclusively for Shahid Afridi and the Indians couldn’t do anything except looking. Indians thought they had the match in control, taking wickets in regular intervals, but then came the man who has a knack for playing well whenever faced with the Indian side. He unleashed a terror of strokes that day, scoring 100 of just 45 balls, the third quickest scorer.
Memorable clashes which India took to its favour
Though Pakistan has more number of wins versus India, India has always managed to claw past Pakistan in important matches and situations, and has as yet a clean record of beating Pakistan in every match it has played against her in the World Cup stages.
1. Test match of 1984
The days were still not ripe for Pakistani cricket. Imran Khan had just got the captaincy and was trying to mould the team into world beaters. He managed to put India into a precarious position bowling them out for 125. But it was not Pakistan’s day. Kapil Dev and his team rose from the ashes to bowl out Pakistan for a meagre 87. Sunil Gavaskar, the veteran opening Batsman then, proved the saying that ‘catches win matches’, by taking four important catches. The fielding that day of the Indian side proved to be the hammer in the nail for the Pakistanis.
2. The Sahara Friendship series
A one-man dominated affair
If ever a whole series was dominated by an individual it was Sourav Ganguly in the Sahara Friendship series. The left-hander took a total of 15 wickets and three catches and made 222 runs. In the whole series, he looked invincible and this was one of the best series in Ganguly’s career. India outsmarted the Pakistanis 4-1.
3. 8 February 1999, at the Feorzeshah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi
When Kumble showed his mettle!
Ask an Indian about one match he remembers Anil Kumble by, it would be this. The man who rose from the worst of situations displayed his skills of lethal bowling that day to bag all 10 wickets in an innings of Pakistan. Kumble took 10 wickets for 74in one 21.3 over spell, and conceded only 49 runs in the process. Needless to say, India won that match by a whopping 212 runs.
4. Semi-Final, 2011 World Cup
Day when Afridi praised the Indian fans!
Pakistan fell short of the mark yet again in a crucial match of the world cup semis. They lost wickets at regular intervals and paved the way for India to a place in the finals, which India ultimately won. The match though created a lot of hype not for on-field reasons, but for then Captain Shahid Afridi, who allegedly backtracked his statements about India he had made after the match. Once the match was over Afridi had given full credit to India for the win and praised the lively atmosphere with its people but once on Pakistan soil, he back-tracked his statements and stated that Indians were ‘not as large hearted’ as the Pakistanis were.
Incidents which are etched in our memories
Rarely, if at all, has a match been played between the two sides without an ugly altercation or personal duel between the two sides. Yet, some of them stands out in comparison to others. Lets revisit those instances:
1.Personal duels have never been as intense as the one between Shahid Afridi and Irfan Pathan. In 2003, Shahid Afridi, before the start of a match in Amsterdam of the Videocon Cup, claimed that he could smash Irfan Pathan for six of the very first ball as he was no match for him. When he did get the chance, he smashed a 6 off the first ball he faced of Irfan Pathan. The six was so huge that it landed outside of the stadium and had to be replaced with a new ball.
2. The test match which was played at Eden Gardens, Calcutta from 16–20 February 1999 is arguably the most controversial test encounter between the two nations. The match has remained the most visited cricket match in history. A total of around 465,000 people visited the match. Shoaib Akhtar’s 4/71 and 4/47, Saeed Anwar’s 188 not out is the reasons the game is remembered for on-field reasons. But the game is perhaps remembered for the controversy that ensued when Tendulkar was run out in the second innings to which the spectators in the stadium reacted very angrily to. The situation resulted in the crowd causing a riot and the police had to ultimately empty most of the crowd from the stadium, and the remainder of the match had to be played with the stadium near empty. Pakistan eventually won the test by 46 runs.
3. The pair of Kiran More of India and Javed Miandad of Pakistan is best remembered for the sledging incident where Miandad famously imitated More during a match by jumping up and down on the pitch. It was a scene questionable, and debated long after for its ethics, but nonetheless it was equally hilarious.
4. In one of the games in Bangalore from World Cup 1996, Venkatesh Prasad was hit by a 4 by Aamir Sohail, and Aamir sohail pointed his bat at Prasad, with some choicy words. The next ball, Prasad bowled him.
The spate of terror attacks on Indian soil by supposed Pakistani militants and the turmoil in Pakistan have put into hold any match between the two sides. The next match scheduled between the two is in 2013, by the time when many things can change. The diplomacy cricket brings and how it is used by the leaders to calm tensions across the borders is an example in itself. India’s current Prime Minister, invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani during the World Cup 2011 semi final match of India and it proved to ease the ties between the nations which were strained after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.