HomeCricket World CupIndia v Pak in ODI World Cups: anything, but...

India v Pak in ODI World Cups: anything, but the most nail-biting saga around

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India won’t look anywhere- not on stats, not on historical narrative and not even on who can do what to whom in the ODI world cup- as they play Pakistan at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.

For simply, what’s happened in the past, has happened. India have a clear winning record against Pakistan in the 50-over World Cup campaigns. 

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There’s so much to savour and recollect and talk endlessly about.

There’s the glorious 1996 World Cup win, where Jadeja’s ruthless hitting of Waqar still tends to find a lot less space for discussion vis-a-vis Mr. Sohail sledging Mr. Venkatesh Prasad, only to find his stumps shattered by the medium pace bowler.

There’s the 2003 ODI World Cup, where the god of Cricket blessed the fans with his incredible 97 at the SuperSport park. The game had it all- Shoaib’s furious fast bowling, Wasim Akram’s controlled line and length, Sehwag with a few shots up the order, Ganguly’s duck, The Wall’s defiant innings alongside the prince Yuvraj taking India home at the end. 

Forget not, the game also presented fans one of the finest ODI world cup centuries ever hit by a Pakistan batsman: Saeed Anwar’s 101 off 126.

Pakistan’s poet with the bat was, is, and shall always be regarded as the finest ever to bat on a cricket pitch, even as there hardly seems to be much discussion about the great left hander.

Then, in the years that followed, there was the 2011 clash, where Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq’s late charge towards the end of the run chase didn’t quite succeed as our friends from the other side of the border would’ve liked.

A game that to this day is remembered for another vital fifty by Sachin Tendulkar, one that came in a winning cause galdy for India, also featured a host of other performances that to this day, deserve greater mention.

For instance, how many of us remember that each of the bowlers deployed by captain cool MS Dhoni ended up taking two wickets apiece? 

Zaheer Khan, who had an incredible 2011 World Cup campaign, led the attack perfectly to take a two-for, only for his colleagues to compliment his incredibly controlled line and length bowling; Nehra, Patel, Harbhajan and Yuvraj all played their part as India emerged victorious by 29 runs in the semi finals.

And there was a certain Wahab Riaz in there as well- was his incredible fifer one of the finest spells of fast bowling one of the best demonstrations of searing and controlled bowling in equal measure? 

In the next round, circa 2015 at the Adelaide Oval, India once again thumped Pakistan; Kohli’s remarkable century coupled with useful fifties by Dhawan and Raina made way for a 76-run triumph at the group stage.

Even on that occasion, Misbah, the then captain, played a lone vigil courtesy a gritty 76.

Then came the 2019 World Cup game between the two in England, a time by which new names like Imam, Babar, Imad, Shadab, Kuldeep and Chahal had emerged on the horizon.

However, the coming up of new names didn’t necessarily lead to a change of fortunes for a team branded as India’s archrivals and humiliated rather needlessly in the aftermath of a loss as if its cricketers have any hand in the political chaos between the two nations and the vehemence that dominates its cross-border disputes.

The only place, it must be reiterated, that India must look into as they play Pakistan today- and we are no cricketers, just observers- are the weaknesses that can be exploited.

Is there an out of form batsman that can still be kept quiet, a newer face that can be curbed and a threatening bowler that can be dealt with smartly?

Remember, Babar Azam, who enters the mega clash against India without too many runs to his name in the 2023 World Cup campaign, began the event with a strange, rather baffling 5 off 18 against the Netherlands.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, two wickets so far from as many games, hasn’t looked his best.

He went for 1 for 66 in the recent game against Sri Lanka. 

Fakhar Zaman has been out of sorts while Shadab Khan, such a competitive campaigner (85 wickets from 66 games), has been lukewarm, to say the least.

The leg break specialist can also double up as a handy batter; he has 4 fifties to his name and a strike rate of 84, which should give confidence to Pakistan with their premier batsman still searching for big runs.

The most obvious question in this regard, something as obvious as asking whether it will get wet if it rains, not that there’s a sign of any today, is whether Babar can get a big one today?

And while Rohit Sharma and team would hate that, what they must watch out for and plan accordingly, is Mohd. Rizwan.

A standout performer with the bat, the man who often gets shadowed, does he not, will enter the Ahmedabad game with massive confidence in him.

Regardless of how much pleasure fans on this part of the world get in trolling Pakistan, Rizwan’s knock the other day against Sri Lanka, it ought to be said, may have numbed even Pak’s harshest critics.

In 2016, when Carlos Brathewaite smoked England out of the Eden Gardens with four consecutive sixes, Sir Ian Bishop remarked, “Remember the name,” in his emotional celebration of Brathwaite.

But in 2023, when Rizwan clubbed Sri Lanka out of the ground thanks to his 131 not out, how can one possibly not say, “remember the knock?”

Can anyone among or ideally speaking all, including Virat and Rohit, and Iyer and Rahul play a gem and give us a win to savour for the ages?

How good can Bumrah be today, having already been in splendid form upon return and having recently taken his best figures in the World Cup?

And can Kuldeep, the Chinaman from Kanpur but a name regarded around the world as we speak, play his part?

Questions, there are many; answers, eventually, will play their part.

Let’s make time for this colossal battle and hope that it’s a nail biter, but remember to not chew off what’s left of the fingers as twenty two men are set to apply grit and cricketing smarts.

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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