Pakistan vs India: For sixth edition, rivalry is as lop-sided as ever

The weight of history proved too heavy even for the seasoned trio of Misbah, Younus and Shahid Afridi

Emmad Hameed February 16, 2015
India's players celebrate the dismissal of Umar Akmal (R) during the Pool B 2015 Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval on February 15, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Not much has changed between Mohali 2011 and Adelaide 2015. Four years ago, Misbahul Haq was fighting a lone battle as his partners kept disappearing in the shed one after another and the same scenes were repeated some 10,000 kilometres away at arguably the most sub-continental of Australian wickets.

The Indo-Pak World Cup rivalry is even more lopsided now after the hammering that Misbah’s men were handed out— six out of six for India is a testament to their supremacy on their rivals renowned for making outlandish claims and falling flat on their face time and again.

More than a year ago, the ICC announced the schedule of the World Cup— February 15 was the date marked for a supposed titanic clash between the greatest rivals in the sporting arena. The media campaign gained momentum as the match drew nearer.

Perhaps our embattled nation’s only hope of salvaging some pride was left with a jittery and nervous bunch of cricketers who sadly found the enormity of the occasion well and truly beyond their frail temperament.

The fever pitch was reached in the last seven days and eventually the weight of history proved too heavy even for the seasoned trio of Misbah, Younus and Shahid Afridi.

Misbah fought manfully but was left ruefully short of support after Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood and Umar Akmal perished in the blink of an eye.

Afridi — the inexplicable Pakistan phenomenon — had another forgettable day against the old foes and is now almost certain to end his international career, winless after four painful defeats in the four biggest ODI battles of a 18-year old roller coaster ride.

The mere retention of the incredibly out of sorts Younus Khan in the playing eleven sums up the lack of depth in Pakistan cricket and the dismissal of the veteran by a rising delivery pretty much summed up his woes with the white ball.

After three attempts Younus joins the growing list of Pakistan legends who have found the Indians insurmountable in a World Cup clash.

If the selectors and coach Waqar Younus had their say Younus won’t have even made it to the World Cup squad, one fears that the accolades and the respect that the Mardan born earned in the last few months with his Test knocks is being lost in much quicker time than it was gained.

To ‘accommodate’ the stalwart in the playing eleven Pakistan sacrificed Nasir Jamshed who averages a whopping 102 against India.

Sarfraz Ahmed to quote Misbah was another ‘sacrifice’ that had to be made in search of team balance and both potential game changing openers sat in the dressing room donning the substitute’s bib as Younus caved in to Shami.

The World Cup though has just begun; the only positive that comes out from the Adelaide hiding is that the pressures of a battle with the bitter rival is over. Pakistan now need to regroup and sort out the mess before they take on the West Indies in Christchurch.

Sohail Khan’s five-wicket haul in Adelaide is also a beacon of hope and a reward for trusting in the abilities of the top wicket-taker in the domestic circuit, he has the potential of outfoxing the best in the business with his assortment of deliveries at the death overs.

With renewed vigour, Pakistan must take on the West Indians who are in disarray following a plethora of problems (both on and off the field) since the former Caribbean Kings are the weakest of the top ranked nations in the group.

Waqar and Misbah also need to make a decisive call on Younus or perhaps allow the warrior to fight one more battle at the top of the innings.

The remaining ten players must be retained for at least the Christchurch game.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2015.


R Khan | 8 years ago | Reply @Rajesh Don’t take Kashmir issue to your nerves. There is no harm accepting that India is a bigger nation in term of population, literacy, industrialization, trade & may be cricket. Let’s discuss & solve Kashmir issue in the light of UNO resolutions, once for all as a dignified nation. Do you agree?.
Shahid | 8 years ago | Reply @Nikhil Parchure: Excellent analysis my friend.
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