The bitter neighbourhood rivalry of almost 1.5 billion fans is back in the revered arena, ready to get one up – but the World Cup is India’s stomping ground – always has been.
When Team India plays against Pakistan, more than a billion emotions are at stake.
From the godly Sachin Tendulkar era to the roaring times of relentless Virat Kohli, India’s world cup clashes with Pakistan are the most memorable games for any cricket fan in our country.
And the fact that India has never been beaten by the bitter cousin on the biggest stage is a matter of pride – in a country where cricket is more than just a game, and bigger than any religion.
The neighbours cum arch-rivals face each other for the seventh time in the World Cup on Sunday. Having come out victorious in all six encounters, India is again the favorite going into the game.
As Team India prepares to show the neighbours their place, we revisit cricket’s most animated, emotional and mercurial rivalry on the grandest stage of the game.
India Vs Pakistan Head to Head
1992: Beginning of an Era
An Indian team led by a young Mohd. Azharuddin blew the eventual champions in the first ever world cup game between the two teams. Expectations on both sides were high. Pakistan was led by one of their greatest and most revered cricketer and current Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Indian innings was anchored by Ajay Jadeja from the beginning along with contributions from Azharuddin and Vinod Kambli. But the main contribution came from the batsman who changed the face of the game forever. Master blaster, Sachin Tendulkarwas the highest run getter for India on the day. India was still struggling with the run rate, but Kapil Dev played a match winning cameo blasting 35 runs of 26 balls to take his team to a competitive total of 216.
The duo of Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar along with young pacer Javagal Srinath made sure Pakistan was on the backfoot right from the start. Great resilience shown by Aamer Sohail and Javed Miandad, was unable to mount the total as India defeated Pakistan by 43 runs. World cricket fraternity took notice of a 19-year old Sachin Tendulkar.
1996: Knocking out the Champions
This time a matured Azhar’smen faced Pakistan in their own backyard. But the defending champions were dealt with a major blow before the game with skipper and their best bowler, Wasim Akram, had to sit out because of an injury.
Azhar won the toss and elected to bat first. Tendulkar and Navjot Singh Sidhu gave India a flying start with a 90-run partnership. Sidhu continued his carnage and scored an explosive 93. The middle order performed decently but it was ODI specialist Jadeja who emerged as the X-factor on the day with quick cameo 45 of 25 balls to present a challenging target of 289 for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s chase started with openers AamerSohail and Saeed Anwar hammering Indian bowlers for 84 runs in the first 10 overs. The match is famous for a memorable banter between Pakistan’s Sohail and Indian fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad who had the last laugh when he uprooted Sohail’s stumps and pointed the way back to the pavilion.Losing wickets on regular intervals, the only saving grace for Pakistan was JavedMiandad’sstand-alone performance. But that couldn’t save the champions from being humbled as Anil Kumble and Prasad shared the spoils with 3 wickets each. Sidhu was awarded man of the match as India advanced into the semi-finals.
CWC 1999:The Emotional Triumph
The WC’99 match took place in the backdrop of the Kargil war. There was palpable tension and stiff shoulders on both the sides. Third time captain Azharknew how ugly things might get if they lose.
Tendulkar played yet another fine knock, giving India a steady start. Rahul Dravid and Azhartookcommand with wristy flicks and elegant cuts in the middle overs and helped India reach a fighting total. Some fierce bowling from Akram, Waqar Younis and Azhar Mahmood restricted India to 227 at the end of 50.
Pakistan was hoping to easily reach the easy target, India’s pacers had other plans. Srinath sent the two openersback to the pavilion in the first 10 overs before Prasad unleashed his fury and claimed 5 scalps for just 27 runs and bagged the MoM. The dominant one-sided victory was celebrated as a festival and dedicated to the soldiers fighting for the pride of the nation.
CWC 2003:The Fastest vs The Greatest
Perhaps, the most iconic picture from India and Pakistan’s 2003 match was Sachin’selegant yet outrageous cut above point for a six against the fiery Shoaib Akhtar. That match was so intensive that the little master called it the best innings of his career.
The game started with Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar going full throttle against Indian bowlers, scoring a magnificent century enroute to guiding his team to a competitive total of 273. The target was made tougher by the illustrious and arguably one of the best bowling attacks cricket has ever seen with the trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
Sachin and Sehwag opened the Indian innings in a way that made Pakistan look like a second division team. The 2nd over of the innings, became one of the most famous overs that Sachin ever player. Tendulkar showed Akhtar why he’s called the god of the game, scoring 18 runs off the world’s fastest bowler in his prime. Tendulkar’s master innings and a 102-runpartnership with Mohd Kaif gave India the momentum to continue with aggressive stroke play and win the match with 4 overs to spare. Sachinfell just 2 runs short of another century but the innings is memorably edged in every Indian fan’s memory.
2011:Early signs from the Champions
After no coming up against each other in 2007, the Indian team led by the genius MS Dhoni registers a historic win at Mohali against Pakistan in the semi-final game.
India got off to a flying start with a quickfire knock from Virender Sehwag. He smashed Umar Gulfor five boundaries in his 2nd over. Tendulkar took command and took India to a fighting total with a patient 85 runs, amid four dropped catches and one overturned LBW decision. A quick cameo from Suresh Raina in the slog overs tookIndia to a 260-runtotal.
Pakistan started with good momentum before an in-form and sharp Zaheer Khan (leading wicket taker of the tournament)nabbed Kamran Akmal. Pakistan’schase was humbled by the hero of 2011, Yuvraj Singh who took two wickets in consecutive overs to ensure India maintains its winning streak against the bitter rivals. Misbah-ul-Haqtried hard but remained the last man standing for Pakistan as India won the match convincingly and advanced to the finals, where captain marvelous Dhoni finished in style – and the rest is history.
2015:When India outclassed Pakistan
2015 world cupsaw the meteoric rise of Virat Kohli who hit unimaginable form and was unstoppable throughout the campaign. This was also the game where India left Pakistan clueless from the very first over and sailed through for a comfortable victory.
Dhawan started in illustrious form with his incredibly beautiful drives after India had lost Rohit Sharma early. But that somewhat turned into a blessing in disguise when Kohli scored a match winning century along with Dhawan who scored 73 runs. Raina starredon the night with his natural strokeplay and made Pakistan’s bowling attack look incompetent. Although Pakistan came back strongly in the death five overs, but it was too little too late as India put up 301 runs on the board.
In bowling, India completely dominated Pakistan, led by Mohammad Shami who tore apart Pakistan’s top order. Improved fielding saw some spectacular catches too. Misbah-ul-Haq was again the lone ranger but with no support from the other end, he too eventually succumbed. India won the match convincingly and showed that the Pakistani squad was miles inferior in talent.
Time for Victory number seven
Kohli-led Men in Blue take on noisy neighbours Pakistan on Sunday. Team India is arguably the strongest team at the cup and isn’t expected to give even an inkling of leverage to Pakistan.
The hot opening pair of Sharma and Dhawan suffered a blow with the latter out due to a thumb injury. But India yet boasts one of the most formidable batting lineups, with the class of Kohli, Dhoni, KL Rahul and Klusener-esque Hardik Pandya at the end.
The bowling attack is led by the top ODI bowler Jasprit Bumrah followed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Chahal, Shami and Kuldeep Yadav is unarguably the best bowling mixture of spin and pace in world.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is dependent on Babar Azam and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed for putting a big score on the board.
Bowling looks too meek even with Mohammad Amir in the playing XI, which makes it a next to impossible task for Pakistan to get a result in their favour.