The Old Trafford stadium at Manchester is set to host one of the greatest rivalries in world cricket on Sunday, as the Asian supergiants – India and Pakistan face each other.
Match 22 of the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England. The rain has been a major reason for the disruption of most of the clashes since the commencement of the tournament. With rain likely to interrupt ahead of the marquee clash, fans are expected to turn out in large numbers to watch their favourite players in action.
The India-Pakistan rivalry isn’t limited to just the ICC tournaments and just cricket in general, but also in other areas of interest shared between both countries. Statistics speaks itself about this classic rivalry. On one hand, India leads the Green Army 6-0 in the World Cup matches, Pakistanis are ahead of the Men in Blue in overall ODI encounters (winning 73 against 54).
There have been very close encounters between the sides in the international cricket – the reason the encounter scheduled on Sunday is considered to be the marquee clash in the tournament. As the teams prepare physically and mentally to live up to the expectations of millions of its fans across the globe, the best knocks and moments from the past will certainly help us to brush up on our history and relive the rivalry’s historic past.
Match 1 – Sydney, 1992 World Cup
The first ever clash of the fierce rivals produced one of the most comical videos in cricketing history. Javed Miandad mimicking India’s then wicketkeeper- Kiran More jumping up and down in response to the latter bugging the batsmen through his constant murmuring behind the stumps.
Led by Mohammed Azharuddin, the Men in Blue set a challenging target of 217, with major contributions from the little master, Sachin Tendulkar (54*) and a short cameo of 35 by India’s only World Cup-winning captain till then – Kapil Dev. Pakistan, however, failed to find answers to the pace trio of Kapil-Prabhakar-Srinath as the team folded for a mere total of 173. India registered the victory by the same margin – during the 1983 finals against the West Indies.
However, India didn’t manage to win more than 2 matches in the tournament. On the contrary, Pakistan accelerated their gears in the knock-out matches overcoming the Kiwis in the Semifinals and England in the finals by 22 runs to win the first ICC trophy in their cabinet.
Match 2 – Bengaluru, 1996 World Cup
Eight years later, the tournament made a return to the subcontinent as India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka hosted the 6th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The Islandic nation was new to the list for hosting such a marquee event. India and Pakistan found themselves in different groups as per the draw.
However- the duo faced each other in the Quarter-finals of the tournament. Winning 4 of its 5 matches, Pakistan had a competitive edge over their counterparts, India who had secured the position winning 3 and slipping down to Australia in its group owing to the NRR. A great opening partnership by Navjot-Tendulkar (90) dominated by the former gave a bolstering start to the Indian innings.
The middle order comprising the likes of captain- Azharuddin, Vinod Kambli & Ajay Jadeja added another 95 runs to the scorecard which meant that the visitors needed to chase a mammoth total of 288 to book a berth in the semis. It was the same match where the Prasad-Sohail exchange made the clash a night to remember. The Pakistani opener- Aamer Sohail was looking dangerous and cruising towards victory. Sohail keeping the scorecard busy sledged Prasad pointing his finger towards the boundary after he smashed the right-arm medium pacer for a four.
“Action speaks louder than words”- the phrase was well-defined by Prasad as he knocked off the stumps of the temporary opposition captain, Aamer Sohail- as Wasim Akram didn’t feature in the match owing to injury. Anil Kumble put an end to the proceedings of PAK innings as Jumbo demolished the middle & lower order picking 3 wickets in the end. India entered the SF of the tournament, but eventually lost to SL- the winners of the 1996 edition.
Match 3 – Manchester, 1999 World Cup
This time, it didn’t take long for the rivalry to re-appear in the world cup. The trio of Sachin-Dravid-Azharuddin had all the answers to the pace of Akram-Akhtar-Razzaq in their shot selection and patience level. Rahul Dravid, being the highest scorer of the match with a composed and patient knock of 61 off 89 balls guided India to a respectable score of 227/6 partnering with captain Azhar (59). Venkatesh Prasad bowled the magical spell of his career picking a 5-fer as the neighbours fell for a mere 180 (45.3)
Match 4 – Centurion, 2003 World Cup
The little maestro- Sachin Tendulkar helped the Indians chase the tricky target of 274 set by Pakistan after Saeed Anwar gave a tough time to the Indian bowling unit out in the middle. Zaheer Khan- Ashish Nehra-Javagal Srinath displayed a great bowling partnership.
Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid stood up to the expectations and guided the Indian team to a comfortable victory by 6 wickets. India made their appearance in the 2nd finals of ICC Cricket World Cup, with Sachin Tendulkar bagging the Man of the Series (673 runs) for the most runs scored in a single edition of the tournament till date.
Match 5 – Mohali, 2011 World Cup
India and Pakistan faced each other in the semifinals of the World Cup in 2011. With Sri Lanka entering the finals, it was evident that the trophy will be staying within the sub-continent.
Sachin- the senior most player in the squad took the charge against the Pakistan bowling and contributed a stellar 85 in the target of 261 put forth by India. The 5-fer by Wahab Riaz including the priceless scalp of the eventual Man of the Tournament- Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni & Virender Sehwag was appearing to be the wash-out on Indian fans dreams of making it to their 3rd finals.
However, the equal contribution of two wickets each by the five Indian bowlers booked the ticket for the Men in Blue to Mumbai for playing the 2011 Grand Finale and rest is history.
Match 6 – Adelaide, 2015 World Cup
Both the nations met early in the 2015 edition of the tournament at the Adelaide Oval. A lot had changed from the previous edition, yet was similar. The greatest among it was the opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan- Rohit Sharma. Though the duo had proved their mettle in the 2013 Champions Trophy in England – it was a different platform for the pair to establish their dominance.
Going through the transition phase, India overcame the high pressure of playing their arch-rivals and maintained the legacy in the competition. Shikhar Dhawan- Virat Kohli- Suresh Raina heroics in the middle ensured 300-run mark on the scorecard despite a shaky lower-order.
Misbah-ul-Haq played a captain’s knock in the run chase appearing to be the only Pakistani finding some answers to the mix Indian bowling line-up comprising the youth, experience, pace & promise to achieve big in international cricket. The pace trio of Umesh Yadav- Mohammed Shami- Mohit Sharma shared eight wickets amongst themselves bowling economically as the Green Army fell short off 76 runs to the target. None of their batsmen was able to find the solution to Shami’s pace and bounce.
Match 7 – Manchester, 2019 World Cup
Bring it on – it doesn’t matter whether the scorecard reads 6-1 or 7-0; Manchester, India and Pakistan are ready to set the stage alight on the biggest stage of them all.