Thursday, 20 November 2014

The India vs Pakistan Cricket rivalry revived- An action packed cricket contest!

Every India- Pakistan cricket encounter has its own thrills & excitement attached to it.  After all these  two countries share the same passion for the gentlemen's game and with political tensions persisting with   India & Pakistan there is an added zing attached to viewing a India- Pakistan  Cricket contest.
The match I am going to describe first to you all is the  India- Pakistan World T20 Finals in 2007 which was staged in the ‘Bull Ring’ Johannesburg, South Africa on September 24, 2007.
This tournament was a first of a kind at that time with T20 just gaining popularity of the cricket lovers. And what must be noted here is the fact that the stalwarts of Indian cricket team during that time namely Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble had opted out of this tournament. This meant that there was a completely new setup with a new kid in the block Mahendra Singh Dhoni being named as the skipper for the Indian Team for the inaugural edition of the World T20.
This in fact proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Indian team as under a new captain, MS Dhoni, India produced throughout the tournament a collective team effort which ended up in them winning the tournament. The tournament for India, had its highlights for India with a tie with arch rivals Pakistan in the group stages which ended up in a super over where Robin Uthappa’s  ball  sealed the win for India, to a wild and rampaging Yuvraj Singh’s  outburst where he smashed Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over.
Coming to the finals of this tournament, there was lot of hype and the expectations of cricket lovers were at a new high across the globe as the arch rivals India & Pakistan had ended up reaching the finals. So the Indian selectors move to name MS Dhoni as captain of a young team had stood vindicated.
India won the toss and decided to bat on a flat pitch. In a surprising move, Yusuf Pathan opened the batting and after a flurry of few big hits was dismissed by Mohammad Asif for 15 of 8 balls.  India’s mainstay on this big day was calm Gautam Gambhir’s brilliant knock of 75 of 54 balls laced with eight boundaries and two sixes. He held the innings together and despite the inform Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni not contributing much, both dismissed by Umar Gul who was in prime form on that day with fabulous figures of  4 overs 3 for 28.  Gambhir was ably supported by a young Rohit Sharma who smashed a quick fire 30 of 16 balls coming in late in the innings to propel India to a total of 157 runs which was just about par considering the pitch conditions in Johannesburg.   
The atmosphere was electric and the tension was at its peak when the Pakistan began to chase a modest total of 157 to become the first World T20 champions. India got an early scare when Imran Nazir blazed away from the world go, until the time where he was runout by Robin Uthappa for 33 of just 14 balls. Pakistan was cruising in their chase despite the enormosity of the occasion, till the time Irfan Pathan was introduced into the bowling attack. Irfan’s spell was the game changer in this game as first he removed Shoaib Malik and then he very craftily dismissed Shahid Afridi who could have run away with the game. The tightness and accuracy shown by Irfan Pathan was instrumental in slowing the run flow and also in providing the necessary breakthroughs. His final match figures read an astonishing 4 overs 3 for 16 as a result of which he was rightly declared Man of the Match in this game. And he was ably supported by R.P Singh who ended up with match figures of 4 overs 3 for 26.

And, it all boiled down to the last over of the game where Pakistan needed 8 runs to win the game. And surprisingly, despite having an over of Harbhajan Singh left at his disposal, Dhoni decided to throw the ball to the innocuous Joginder Sharma to bowl the final over. Joginder started off a with a wide, probably showing his nervousness.  But the moment which will remain etched in the minds of all the viewers was the ball where Misbah-ul-Haq decided to play a paddle sweep despite having Long off in the inner circle.  The tension was indescribable as the bowled soared in the air and S. Sreesanth picked up the catch.  India had made history by becoming the team to win the first ever World T20 tournament!!.  India could thank Misbah-ul-Haq for the shot he played which delivered the result in India’s favour, but that’s how sometimes games of cricket are won or lost.  

It was definitely a great cricketing spectacle, this finals match and it was played in good spirits and definitely it is still remembered by viewers and fans alike even after so many years gone by.

And now folks fast forward 9 years since the battle I described to you all in detail earlier in this very blog post to February 27, 2016. It was the clash of the arch rivals in the Asia Cup T20. A game not as significant or important as the one I described earlier but still as every fan from both sides of the border would agree- no contest between India and Pakistan is an inconsiquential or insignificant.

For Pakistan, who post 2009 had to take refuge in the Middle East- Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah to play their home games courtersy the increasing number of terror attacks taking place in their country making it unsafe for touring teams to come there and play cricket. So as a result of this they don't get the much required home advantage when it comes to the pitches and crowd , and importantly the local cricket crazy fans in Pakistan are deprived of watching matches in a stadium(which is an experience which can't be replicated by watching the game on TV).

Also there was a huge amount of curiosity for all cricket lovers to view this game as this could well be the last few times we will be seeing the man who confuses everybody with his magnificent talent coupled by his humongous inconsistency- Shahid Afridi 

And for me personally it was the first time I could see the return of the supremely talented and gifted left arm fast-bowler Mohammed Aamir who served a  five years ban  for his involvement in the spot fixing scandal  which indicted Salman Bhatt, Mohammad Asif with him, and he bounced back with good performances in the domestic circuit before being called back  to the national team.

A gifted bowler, Aamir could swing the ball both ways at speeds of 145kph + regularly. He is capable of demolishing the best batting line-ups on any type of surface. For people who may have forgotten how talented this bowler is here is a small glimpse of that:
 So in this game played at Mirpur, Dhaka the pitch was anything like a pitch we get to see in the sub-continent. It was fast, bouncy, nippy and vicious on most occasions. It was a great relief from seeing pitches where batsmen completely dominate the bowlers making it fun to watch but after a while it gets boring to watch.

So on a spicy pitch such as this India won the toss and chose to bowl first. And what followed was harikery of the highest order with batsmen playing pathetic shots, absurd running between the wickets and some sensible bowling from the Indian bowlers to bundle out their arch-rivals for a paltry 83.

 A very disappointing performance considering  they had experienced batsmen like Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Hafeez and Umar Akmal who could have played sensibly and put a score of 120-130 runs which would have been enough to possibly win this contest.

As what followed this horrific batting performance was sheer class from Aamir who on is way backj from the ashes so to speak, unleashed 4 overs of top quality swing bowling at speeds of 145kph + which proved too good for the Indian batsmen like Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane on the given day as they fell to his class. Despite his spell which almost got out all the top order of the Indian team the other bowlers especially couldn't back it up allowing India to win the game- not after many  hiccups on their way to the win.

Kohli displayed to the world why he is among the world's best batsmen going around in the world currently as he guided India to safety amidst rough waters. It is games like this which is needed for the game we love so much this. Just picture this - my brother on a trip to Finland stayed back in his room to catch this game skipping three hours where he could probably do something else.

It is that intensity, curiousity  and sheer joy which brings watching a high voltage clash between these two arch-rivals brings to the table which will make anyone, cricket lovers across the world take notice of and watch it. It is this battle, my readers which needs to be re-ignited, Due to political reasons, Cricket must not fall prey to it's aftermath.

Fans from both countries definety want to see this arch rivalry more often and not only in the Asia Cup or a World Cup. Hope the administrators in PCB, BCCI and ICC listen to this and possibly find  a solution for this problem and restart billateral ties between the two nations.

It was a great match indeed yesterday. For me I am a huge fan of Mohammed Aamir's bowling so it was even more enjoyable to watch him whirl his magic. The fact that the world of cricket have embraced him after the crime he was involved in is a great news. The lad has suffered enough and it's a sincere wish that he bowls more and gets better with time.

Another contest India won against Pakistan , a low scoring contest but who says low-scoring contests are boring to watch??  

Hope such kind of pitches are a more common sight in the days to come and not the flat belters where only the batsmen has a gala time, There needs to be an equal contest between bat and ball which increases the curiosity and interest of viewers  and cricket fans worldwide.

And hopefully through this people who don't follow the game much can be attracted to the beauty and greatness of the gentleman's game- Cricket! 




  1. Good one. Very detailed. Try to make your future articles crispier. The attention of the audience will start to waver after 500 words. Look into the preci writing technique to make it more effective and appealing

  2. Yes I will make my future articles crisper for sure. I feel since this is an extension of the blog post I wrote about the ICC World T20 2007 finals earlier, this one was a bit long.

    Will look into the preci writing technique to make it more effective and appealing. Thanks for the feedback!