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Clash of the Titans

For Pakistan’s cricket fans, World Cup encounters against India have always resulted in heartache and every time there are incidents which they would struggle to erase from their memory

Clash of the Titans

Do you still remember glimpses of Javed Miandad jumping like a frog after being sledged by India’s wicketkeeper Kiran More in 1992? Are you still haunted by Aamir Sohail being bowled following his verbal brawl with India’s Venkatesh Prasad? Do you still feel that Pakistan could’ve chased the target of 228 versus India at Manchester in 1999? Do you still blame Abdul Razzaq for dropping Sachin Tendulkar’s catch in 2003? Or do you still blame Misbah ul Haq’s slow batting for Pakistan’s defeat at Mohail four years back in the semi-final?

For Pakistan’s cricket fans, World Cup encounters against India have always resulted in heartache and every time there are incidents which they would struggle to erase from their memory. Despite the overall statistical edge over India in ODIs, the men in green are always jinxed at World Cup against them.

From 1992 to 2011, Pakistan have met India five times and every time India have emerged victorious. No one knows what happens to Pakistani players when they’re playing against India in a World Cup match.

Before attempting to find the reasons behind Pakistan’s win-less record against India in the mega event, let’s have a quick look at what has happened in the past:

The first takra: The first Indo-Pak encounter in Cricket World Cup was held in 1992, in which Pakistan failed to chase a target of 217 runs. Despite a solid third wicket partnership between Aamer Sohail and Javed Miandad, Pakistan’s batting collapsed from 127 for 3 to 173 all out.

Brawl at Bangalore: The arch rivals met in World Cup quarter-final in Bangalore. Wasim Akram withdrew from the game at the eleventh hour citing shoulder injury. Once again, Pakistan failed to chase the target despite a solid opening start provided by stand-in captain Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar. The match is still remembered for the verbal spat between Aamer Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad following which the skipper was bowled by Prasad.

Hat-tricks of defeats: India completed the hat-trick of winning the toss and opting for batting first in World Cup encounters against Pakistan in 1999. The result was also the same as Pakistan’s bowlers did well to restrict India to 227, but once again the batting line faltered to be all out for 180. Venkatesh Prasad took five for 27.

The dropped chance: Pakistan scored 273/7 after winning the toss thanks to Saeed Anwar’s brilliant century. India got to a flying start, but skipper Waqar Younis sent Virender Sehwag and Saurav Ganguly back to pavilion on two consecutive deliveries in the sixth over.

Pakistan got another chance in the next over when Sachin Tendulkar mistimed Wasim Akram’s delivery, but was dropped by Abdul Razzaq at mid-off. That dropped catch halted Pakistan’s fight back and India reached the target in the 46th over, with Tendulkar scoring a 75-ball 98.

Mohali misfortune: After an early exit for both the teams in 2007 World Cup, India and Pakistan met in 2011 in the semi-final at Mohali. There was a series of incidents which will always haunt Pakistan cricket fans. Numerous dropped catches, unbelievable outcome of DRS on Sachin Tendulkar’s review and then Misbah ul Haq’s slow batting, which got him the tag of “Tuk Tuk”.

India won the toss and opted to bat first. The first shock in the match came in the 11th over when Sachin was questionably rescued by the UDRS when he was trapped LBW by Saeed Ajmal. Pakistan’s fielding was pathetic in the match as they dropped as many as four catches of Sachin, who eventually scored 85.

Despite this, India were restricted to 260, but Pakistan failed to chase the target, once again. Many fans blame Misbah-ul-Haq who scored 56 off 76 balls, playing 42 dot balls. So, what actually went wrong in these five encounters?

Even former greats are unable to explain what happens when they’re playing against India.

“I don’t have any words to explain why we always lose to India in World Cup matches,” Aamer tells ‘The News on Sunday’.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, another former captain, is also clueless on this question. “We’ve defeated India in many matches but for some reason we never managed to get the better of them in World Cup matches. It remains a disappointment for me both as player and as captain,” he says.

Former captain and member of Pakistan’s victorious squad of 1992 Ramiz Raja feels that it has something to do with pressure. “I think players take extra pressure while playing against India in big events, which is not there when they’re playing a bilateral series or playing in an event like Asia Cup. All they need to do is control their nerves when playing against India,” Rameez explains.

One wonders if Pakistan’s winless record against India has anything to do with the value of this match against the traditional rivals. Great Javed Miandad agrees. “Fans from all age groups in our two cricket-mad countries forget things when Pakistan and India are playing. They simply get glued to their television sets or watch the action on giant screens hoping that only their team will win,” Javed Miandad wrote for ICC’s website.

Nevertheless, Pakistan’s Sydney-bound team is eager to change this tradition. Before departure, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said that they would change the history this time. “We know how important this match is and we are going with a clear mind that we want to change history and beat India in a World Cup,” Misbah said.

Pacer Wahab Riaz, who took five wickets in Pakistan’s loss at Mohali, said he was confident he would complete the unfinished task in Adelaide on February 15. “We could’ve won that match (the semi-fFinal in 2011). I am now eager to repeat my performance against India and looking for another five-wicket haul against them,” Wahab said.

Faizan Lakhani

Faizan Lakhani
The author is sports correspondent at Geo News. He can be found on Twitter @faizanlakhani

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