India versus Pakistan is a mouth-watering prospect for cricket fans on both sides of the border. For two powerhouse nations with rich cricketing histories and passionate fans, it does not get bigger than this. It’s been almost seven decades since the two countries played each other for the first time, but the rivalry really intensified only since the 1980s.
We take a look at some indelible moments that both sides have delivered on the cricket field. We’ve focused on nail-biting games and episodes that have played a part in scripting cricket’s biggest rivalry, rather than the individual brilliance of players. It is for this reason that feats like Anil Kumble’s 10 wickets in an innings and Irfan Pathan’s hat-trick do not make the list, despite being incredible achievements in their own right.
1985: A low-scoring classic
India and Pakistan faced off in an ODI at Sharjah, as part of the Rothmans Four-Nations Cup. Put in to bat first, India were bowled out for a paltry 125, thanks to a terrific 6-wicket haul by Imran Khan. So abysmal was India’s performance with the bat that only three batsmen managed two-digit scores in the innings. Chasing this score should have been a piece of cake for Pakistan, but India weren’t going down without a fight. The bowlers, led by skipper Kapil Dev, put in an inspired performance as Pakistan folded for a mere 87. It was a miraculous comeback by India.
1986: Miandad’s last-ball heist
Another ODI at Sharjah, another close encounter. It was the final of the Austral-Asia Cup. India had scored a formidable 245 in their 50 overs on the back of half-centuries by Kris Srikkanth, Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar. As Pakistan set out to chase the target, the Indian bowlers kept taking periodic wickets. One man, however, stood resilient. Javed Miandad took the game right down to the wire with a fighting century. Pakistan needed four runs off the last ball when an inexperienced Chetan Sharma faltered and delivered a full toss, which Miandad duly dispatched into the stands. Miandad’s six continues to haunt Indians fans even today.
1996: Venky’s vengeance
This is one of the most popular tales of India-Pakistan folklore. It was the world cup quarterfinal in front of a packed crowd in Bangalore. Chasing a daunting 288, the Pakistani openers had given a strong start to the innings. Captain Aamer Sohail looked in great touch and was batting on 51 from 44 balls, when he danced down the track and hit Venkatesh Prasad for a boundary through the cover region. It was then that Sohail did something that he would go on to regret. He walked up to Prasad, pointed his bat in the region where he had hit the boundary and told him that he would hit the ball there again. The Indian pacer refrained from reacting, but with the very next ball he had Sohail’s off-stump on the floor. As the Bangalore crowd erupted, the usually reticent Venky was pumped and promptly told Sohail to go back to the dressing room. Pakistan fell short of the target by 39 runs. Besides this incident, the game is also remembered for Ajay Jadeja’s vicious assault on Waqar Younis; the latter leaked 22 runs in an over.
1999: Chennai’s gracious act
Pakistan had travelled to India for a 2-match test series, the first bilateral series between the two nations in ten years. The first test in Chennai was a hard-fought one, with some stellar performances from both sides. India required runs to win in the final innings. They were struggling at 82 for 5 when Sachin Tendulkar, playing with a dodgy back, hit possibly the bravest 100 of his career to take India close. Tendulkar fell when victory was just 17 runs away, and India eventually fell 12 runs short. As the match ended, the Chennai crowd rose in unison and gave Pakistan a standing ovation for a game well won. The Pakistan team, in response, took a lap of honour around the ground, acknowledging the applause. It was a great gesture of mutual respect between two countries that have traditionally struggled to get along.
2007: The rivalry shifts to T20
It was the inaugural T20 world cup, and the two arch-rivals clashed twice in the tournament. The first game, in the group stage, ended in a nerve-wrecking tie, which India eventually won via the famous bowl-out. There second, of course, was the unforgettable final, in which the men in blue snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The infamous scoop by Misbah-ul-Haq, the catch by Sreesanth, the incredible scenes that followed, all of it is etched in memory. Before this world cup, Asian teams hadn’t played much of T20 cricket. One wonders if T20 would have been the rage it is today in the Indian subcontinent if the two Asian giants hadn’t set this tournament on fire.
2017: Pakistan defies all odds
The 2017 champions trophy final brings back tragic memories, but it’s only fair to say that our neighbours deserved this win. Since the turn of the century, Indian cricket has gone from strength to strength whereas Pakistan has seen a glaring decline, which is why when these two teams met in the final, India were overwhelming favourites. The fact that Pakistan had already been beaten once in the tournament by India did not help their cause. On this day, however, things would happen differently. Put in to bat first by India, Pakistan made an imposing 338 in their 50 overs, thanks to a sparkling 100 by opener Fakhar Zaman. In reply, India could only manage 158. Apart from a late surge by Hardik Pandya, India never really looked like a threat. It was a classic case of the underdog rising to the occasion and clinching a memorable win.
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