Pakistan versus India: And the jinx continues...
Well it was 8am that the subcontinent started to get abuzz with the excitement surrounding the clash between Pakistan and India in the World Cup. There always is a different kind of excitement whenever the two teams face off.
Sometimes it ends in player’s houses being attacked in India and sometimes it ends in brawls in Sydney. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain – there are a lot of emotions involved in the clash of the titans of the subcontinent. (I highly doubt that Pakistan can be called a titan as of today but it sounds catchy nonetheless)
It all started in 1992, when Pakistan faced India for the first time in a World Cup match. The result, as we are all well aware, favoured the Indians as the legendary Sachin Tendulkar smashed 54 to ensure that India give a target of 217, which although is a simple target to achieve but Pakistan found it extremely hard and squandered Aamir Sohail’s brilliant 62 to fall short and lose the match by 43 runs.
The fact that Imran Khan and his men lifted the World Cup that year seemed to heal the wound caused by the loss to India. However, the same fate was not awarded to Pakistan in the following World Cups.
Facing India again in the quarter final of the 1996 World Cup at the Chinnaswammy Stadium in Bangalore, Pakistan yet again faltered and lost the match by 39 runs as Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble both took three wickets each to put an end to Pakistan hopes of winning against their arch rivals.
In 1999, Pakistan boasted arguably the best starting XI that has ever been assembled under one umbrella with the likes of Saeed Anwar, Shahid Afridi, Inzamamul Haq, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq in the prime of their careers and the stage was set to bring the cup home. However, even though Pakistan reached the final against Steve Waugh’s men, they failed to do the one thing that their country demanded of them – beat India.
At Old Trafford in the Super Sixes stage, the arch rivals met in their third consecutive World Cup meeting but regardless of the greats who had donned on the green shirts, the result was the same. India defeated Pakistan by 47 runs as the men in green failed to reply to a manageable score of 228. The top order collapsed faster than a stack of dominoes with only Inzamam scoring 41 – the highest from the Pakistanis.
Our best team withered and failed when the gigantic task of outplaying India was put on their shoulders yet again.
It was 3-0 to India and patience of the Pakistanis back home was being tested.
Entering the new millennium, the ‘cornered tigers’ started losing their form and the last remaining remnants of the 1992 squad finally faded into the darkness of retirement.
Pakistan entered yet another World Cup in 2003, and fate had it that they would face India yet again. The pressure intensified and both the countries started preparing for the gigantic clash. Hands were lifted in prayers and a nation of 180 million had their fingers crossed with the hope that for once Pakistan would beat India in a World Cup match.
However, India made it 4-0 and won the match by six wickets to defuse any ambitions that the Pakistani fans had in their minds.
The 2011 World Cup saw the two giants meet in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup but the scenario was completely different with Pakistan going in as the underdogs and India going in as favourites.
India had assembled a world class team with MS Dhoni at the wheel, and adding to the fact that Tendulkar was playing his last World Cup, there was no room for error for the men in blue. As per the expectations from the Indian line up, the former 1983 champions did not falter, and not only did they defeat Pakistan to make it 5-0, they also lifted the World Cup and were crowned as the champions of 2011.
Now what happened yesterday between Pakistan and India was just another tale of Pakistan losing out to their rivals in the World Cups. India can continue its bragging of six victories against Pakistan’s none. However, this time, the expectations were different.
Even though every Pakistani fan wanted their team to win, deep down everyone knew that the form that India are in and the various problems plaguing the Pakistan team, there was only a fool’s hope that Pakistan would triumph.
And as expected, Pakistan made sure that the Indian ‘hoodoo’ stayed intact and lost the game by 76 runs as the middle order collapsed to the misery of the fans who were hoping beyond all hope that their team could surprise this time and end their long wait of a win against their arch rivals.
What really bothers the fans is not the result, but the fact that Pakistan does not even try to play a competitive game is quite frustrating for many.
Starting with the dropped catches to the simply ridiculous shot selection in batting, Pakistan went beyond their limits to ensure that India does not find it difficult to beat them. Virat Kohli was awarded two chances as Umar Akmal’s buttery fingers let slip the opportunity to stop him scoring his century, and in matches like these, opportunities are rare and have to be taken when they arise. However, Pakistan squandered these opportunities and allowed a run chase of 301 to be given.
Given Pakistan’s track record in chasing, 300 seemed a humungous task and rightly so as the men in green failed to even come close to the total with only skipper Misbahul Haq standing solely on the pitch when all his partners seemed to have vanished.
Pakistan lost three wickets in less than eight balls to allow Afridi to come in, but as was expected, Afridi lived up to his expectations of not being consistent and chose his signature style of getting dismissed – playing an unplayable ball and pulling it regardless.
Fingers can be pointed very easily but that is not the question. The match seemed lost well before the players even arrived on the pitch.
Many theories have emerged with people laying the blame on Narendra Modi’s phone call to his Pakistani counterpart, while others blame the betting that is involved whenever the two nations meet.
We can never know for sure what the reason is but whatever it is, it is beyond the acceptance of the Pakistani fans who have waited for more than two decades to see their team win against India in the World Cup.
Regardless of the result and the disappointment of the fans, it is India who had the last laugh and now they can start making another advertisement of ‘Kab Phorenge?’ and even though it hits us right in the heart, no one else is to blame except ourselves and the foundations on which our sporting boards stand.
Had we only played ‘cricket’, the jinx would have ended in the 90’s, courtesy of the immense talent in the Pakistan squad, but neither then nor now is the issue of the talent – it just is something way bigger to comprehend and understand.
For now, we have to sadly and unwillingly accept what the facts rub in our face – India has defeated us six times and has all the bragging rights for the next four years at least.