India vs Pakistan. If you were born in one of these two nations and loved cricket, the gravitas attached to these words would mean a lot. Given all the history between these two nations, it’s not surprising that a game of cricket between them means a lot to their people. That’s the power of cricket. It’s all about the bragging rights, that feeling of being superior than the others. Given that both sides don’t feature together in many sports, cricket matches between them are the source of considerable fan frenzy.
As an Indian fan, these games would matter a lot and more so, given I was born and raised in Sharjah which is a melting pot of many cultures. In your interactions you meet Pakistani cricket fans and then the banter begins. Pakistan in the 1990s were the side to beat but since the early 2000s the tide has changed and India have been giving a fight. With India’s ascent to the top, Pakistan went toppling down over time and now we will be playing a Pakistan side which is possibly one of the weakest sides ever at an ICC event. This speaks a lot. As a cricket fan, I would love the game to be an exciting one, a closely fought one, but the Indian fan in me wants this to be a game where India dominates Pakistan from ball one.
Given how bad the Pakistan ODI side has gotten over the years, this India versus Pakistan clash at the Champions Trophy does not excite me as much as the previous encounters between the two sides. India’s batting is one of the best in the world and the Indian bowling attack is as good as the Pakistani bowling attack, if not better. If we remove the title of this match, everyone would know who was the better side.
Despite all that, there is some charm to this game, given all that hangs on it. People who go to the stadium always have an India versus Pakistan game on their bucket list. I also had this dream and during the 2015 World Cup, this dream came true as I witnessed the arch-rivals play each other at the Adelaide Oval. I was excited, nervous, scared. I went through all the possible emotions I could because it was that big a game.
The toss happened, India batted first and I was thinking oh well, let’s bat them out of the game. India batted slowly, I got annoyed thinking why they were not scoring runs quickly.
Then they were scoring quickly. I got annoyed thinking we may lose wickets. Basically I was irrational and that’s what this game does to you. There was banter between the fans, healthy banter, every ball is cheered for various reasons. And then we walked away victorious. The celebrations were great and it had to be because we had beaten Pakistan in yet another World Cup match.
Pakistan have a superior record over India in the Champions Trophy, but when it comes to World Cup and World T20, India have a far better record and that’s something I cherish. I believe it is these games which matter. Winning a tournament is good, but winning a tournament in which we beat Pakistan just feels better and am sure the feeling is the same across the border. Hopefully over time, India versus Pakistan matches are not just confined to ICC events. The world needs these games because there is so much attached to them. Let’s make #INDvsPAK great again.
On Sunday, there will be a lot on stake for both sides. India are the stronger side and they will want to start off on the right note as defending champions in this tournament, while Pakistan will want to derail India’s plans. I am expecting India to have an easy win, since this side has all-round ability. With the pitches in England becoming flatter, India have an advantage as the pitches will aid their strong batting line-up. Unless a mercurial Pakistan side shows up, I don’t see India losing this game.