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India vs Pakistan: Revisiting the Men in Blue's Champions Trophy failures and rare victory against arch-rivals

2015 World Cup is remembered as much for the “mauka mauka” ad campaign on TV as for the action on the ground. India’s invincibility against Pakistan in World Cups is a matter of great pride for Indian fans on social media and the subject of many jokes on the topic.

ICC tournaments are the only place where India and Pakistan lock horns in a cricket match. While India’s World Cup record is indeed enviable, the ICC Champions Trophy is one event where Pakistan holds the edge. There have been three Champions Trophy encounters between the arch-rivals and Pakistan have held the edge over India winning two.

India has a much better overall record in Champions Trophy reaching the final three times, winning the trophy in 2013 and sharing it with Sri Lanka in 2002. Pakistan, on the other hand, has never been in a Champions Trophy final. But trust fans from both the countries to remind their teams that it doesn’t matter so much whether you bring home the trophy or not, they want a victory against their neighbours at any cost.

File image of an India-Pakistan match. Getty images

File image of an India-Pakistan match. Getty images

The first Champions Trophy encounter between India and Pakistan was a nervy low-scoring affair played at Edgbaston in 2004 which is also the venue of this year’s contest. India batted first and were put in a spot of bother due to some accurate bowling from Naved-ul-Hasan Rana with the new ball and a destructive mid-innings burst from Shoaib Akhtar. Rahul Dravid anchored the inning with 67 and Ajit Agarkar chanced his arm late in the innings to lead India to a respectable, if not match-winning, total of 200.

In reply, Pakistan suffered early setbacks at the bowling of Irfan Pathan, the young swing bowler who had impressed all with his temperament and skills and had given them a lot of trouble in the series back home earlier in the year.

It took the class of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana (later Mohammad Yousuf) to weather the Pathan storm and rebuild the innings. Their partnership and some late blows from Shahid Afridi saw Pakistan through in the final over. Youhana won the man of the match for his unbeaten effort. Pakistan reached the semi-finals on the back of this win only to be blown away by a resurgent West Indian team who would also go on to win the tournament.

In their second Champions Trophy encounter at Centurion, South Africa in 2009, Shoaib Malik lead the way for Pakistan against his favourite opposition, scoring a brilliant hundred. Pakistan batted steadily after losing three early wickets and accelerated brilliantly in the last twenty overs to post a handsome 302.

In response, Gautam Gambhir got India off to a flying start but was run out when he was looking set to take the game away from Pakistan. Dravid, who was making a comeback to India’s ODI set-up in this series, top scored for India again, while Naved-ul-Hasan Rana again picked up four wickets to add to the sense of deja vu from 2004. In the end, Pakistan’s spin bowling proved to be the difference between the two teams. Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal picked wickets at crucial times and keep things tight while Harbhajan Singh went for 71 in his allotted ten overs.

The teams met for their third Champions Trophy encounter at Edgbaston again in 2013. India were already on a roll after beating South Africa and West Indies while Pakistan had lost both their group encounters and were playing for pride. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the early breakthroughs for India taking Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez in his first spell. The match was curtailed by frequent rain breaks and the Indian spinners kept pegging away picking wickets at regular intervals. Both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja got a lot of purchase from the pitch, their partnership with the ball was showing potential of turning into something special for India. Pakistan was eventually bowled out for 165 failing to bat out the allotted 40 overs.

India’s target was further reduced to 102 in 22 overs. Their newly-formed opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan continued their good form and knocked off most of the runs with ease. Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik did the rest in another clinical finish from India who stayed unbeaten in the tournament right till the end to bring home the coveted trophy.

It’s interesting to notice that while Indian team looks very similar from the one that played in 2013, Pakistan’s squad looks almost unrecognisable from the one that played four years ago. That itself tells a story of stability in one team and frequent turmoil in another.

Pakistan’s young team will be eager to prove a point though and unlike ICC World Cups where they are under pressure of breaking the losing streak, they will take heart from the fact that Champions Trophy is one tournament where they have a superior record.


Published Date: May 28, 2017 09:42 AM | Updated Date: May 29, 2017 14:04 PM

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