Pak-India showdown: Let the quivering begin!

Published: March 14, 2012

The tension is palpable in the air when these two great cricketing nations go head to head. PHOTO: AFP

Show me a sporting rivalry greater than Pakistan-India and I will show you the cure for cancer!

Those who want to rebuff me at this stage by pointing out that “The Ashes is the number one rivalry in the game, can save their breaths. Pakistan and India have fought three wars against each other! How many have Australia and England fought?

As rivalries go, they don’t come any bigger than this. The tension is palpable in the air when these two great cricketing nations go head to head.

The last time these teams competed against each other, it was the World Cup semi-final almost a year ago. The match was played in front of the Prime Ministers of both the countries and lived up to its billing of ‘Match of the World Cup.’ India turned out to be victorious on that occasion.

The stakes are not so high this time round but that hardly matters. Whenever there is an India-Pakistan match over a billion people hold their collective breaths to see which team will rule the roost for the day.

Some try to dismiss the match, and the outcome, as merely a game, but for most it is a matter of nationalism and George Orwell’s words that sports is ‘war minus the shooting’ ring clearly in their ears. This sense is fuelled further as the regional political environment doesn’t allow the two neighbors to play as often as they would like.

As usual the match will be a battle between India’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling. India appears to have an edge considering they put in a few decent performances in the recently concluded CB Series in Australia and comfortably chased down a target of 300 plus in 36 overs in what turned out to be their last match of the tour. Pakistan, on the other hand, was humbled by England in the ODIs and T20s after a magnificent performance in the Test Series. The players looked jaded and tired.  The performances so far in the tournament seem to favor India as well.

Pakistan has had better of India on most occasions and lead the ODIs wins tally 69-47 but has never won against India in any of the World Cup matches played. The month of March has been especially unkind to Pakistan where the matches against their neighbor are concerned.  Four of the five ODI World Cup matches between the two teams have been played in the month of March with Pakistan ending up on the losing side in all of them. Will this be the match that heralds a change?

If this history and talk of nationalism is not enough, Pakistan’s captain Misbah ul Haq has a special bone to pick with India. No matter what heights he leads Pakistan to; Misbah will always be remembered for his two failures against the arch rivals, World T20 Final 2007 and ODI World Cup Semi-Final 2011. His inability to lead the team over the rope in these two crucial encounters made him the villain in the eyes of his countrymen and this aura will only be shredded if he leads Pakistan to a win over India. This will be the motivating/driving force for Misbah come March 18.

All in all, this will be “the” encounter of the Asia Cup unless both these teams feature in the final. The organizers got it right by slotting it in for a Sunday, for when Pakistan and India play, the streets are virtually empty, as if a curfew is in place.

Dr Amyn Malyk

Dr Amyn Malik

A Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of the MPH program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He tweets @amynmalik

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shahrukh kazmi

    I don’t think any one is close to there Rivalry, but yeah if you want me to rate Second then it is defiantly Liverpool vs Manchester United.Recommend

  • faraz aziz

    Now,once again the hype will start.once again the cries of ”we have to beat those infidels” .why is it that a cricket match is turned into a battle of religions? why does our public equate victory over india as a victory of islam over hinduism? was it always like this,did we always think of ourselves in terms of us muslims versus them hindus? what has our obsession with religion gotten us? A cricket match should be allowed to remain a sporting event,where one team wins and one loses.There is no justification for making it into a battle between religions.Recommend

  • saad

    Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal any day.Recommend

  • http://oneworldfootball.wordpress.com iSayed

    ” Show me a sporting rivalry greater than Pakistan-India and I will show you the cure for cancer!”

    Um, ever heard of football?
    Madrid v Barcelona, el Classico? (its not a football match, its war!)
    Boca v Riverplate?
    Manutd v Liverpool?

    Now show me the cure for cancer, as promised!Recommend

  • tanveer zafar

    @faraz aziz:

    yes,unfortunately this is true.our society sees everything through the prism of religion.A sporting event has been made into a battle for the superiority of religions.Just shows how deeply ingrained religious dogma is in our society.Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    If Pakistan loses teh game… remember it was fixed by Indian zioinst BCCI… and we should appeal ICC to ban Indian players for winning.Recommend

  • Deb;India

    @faraz aziz

    Agree with you word by word.There is no derth of similar nut cases on this side as well.

    @saad
    I am with you on this one. Federer vs. Nadal anyday, a mouth watering proposition.

    @Zaid Hamid

    Thanks for telling the obvious and a few giggles on it’s way. Recommend

  • Ravish

    I sometimes fail to understand what point the Pakistani posters here are trying to make, when they implicate BCCI in match fixing which they say has resulted in the Pakistani loss. What I fail to understand here is how can the winning team and its players fix the match. Match fixing always rewards under performers, as those performing will get the monetary rewards anyway through the way of sponsorships. While I dont deny BCCI is totally incorruptible, but the Pakistani side at least shouldn’t blame it for its loss, and rather some introspection should take place. Recommend

  • Amit

    honestly .. so over it now.. it was 80s and 90s.. even early 2000 but not now.Recommend

  • Denver cricketer

    I would like my fellow Indians and Pakistanis to insure their TV sets since there is no doubt that many of the sets will breathe their last on March 18th :)Recommend

  • Shabbir

    Only in Pakistan this is seen as a ‘war’ or rivalry …. Indian public is excited to see its team play any other team … they mostly want to see Tendulkar score …. them playing Pakistan is nothing special or over the top. Recommend

  • Abeera

    Dr sahab i can seriously sense your anticipation while writing this article!!!

    Your thoughts seem tense and anxious haahahaha none the less really cant wait almost forgot about todays match..

    WHO WILL WIN????

    I hope gul takes a few wickets .. and afridi has to too.. !!!

    Thanks for this post, realized the whole nation is in frenzy :DRecommend

  • Vineet

    @faraz aziz

    Is that how you guys view it? isn’t that a bit stupid considering half the Indian team members are not hindu at any point of time? hell even Pakistan had Dinesh Kaneria!!
    With Zaheer, Irfan, Munaf, Yousuf, Kaif etc etc … its a pity that you guys dont see the deal.

    anyway.. whatever makes you happy

    a humble neighbor

    VineetRecommend

  • BlackJack

    @faraz aziz:
    Somehow I didn’t think that the infidel card would be played here as well – especially when you had players like Danish Kaneria playing for you. Regrettable. However, to those who come up with football examples to compare against Indo-Pak cricket rivalry – you don’t know what you are talking about. Elements like honor and patriotism and the unbelievable pressure of hope of a billion people cannot compare with club football, however passionate the fans of the teams playing.Recommend

  • Abeera

    Really shabbir??

    Ask indians!! they find it torture mostly telling pakis you will lose and reminding us of the losses we faced.. they love it there as much as we love ittt!!

    Serious stuff here man, no joking!!Recommend

  • TMohsin

    @faraz aziz:
    Sir its not about a match between Muslims and Hindus..its about Pakistan and India..two countries that have fought 3 wars..as the writer mentioned..even the “Pakistani Hindus” pray for Pakistan to win and the “Indian Muslims” pray for India to win when there is a match between Pakistan and India. So it never was a matter of religion. Its a matter of two countries.Recommend

  • alicia

    I am not watching this. I don’t trust pakistani players and have no idea if its real or fixed.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    All Indian games are booked now days. This upcoming game is also booked. I’m damn sure Indian bookies will play an important role for Indian side win & century of tendulker.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Arshad_Afridi Arshad Afridi

    Cant wait for Ghazwa-e-Asia :P Recommend

  • Rational thinker

    There is a sporting rivalry greater than this. It is not as minor as Liverpool v Man U or as insignificant as Nadal v Federer. It is one that involves two nations that are at each other’s throats and it involves a sport that ignites far far more passion than cricket. Rather odd that you used so much rhetoric and made such tall claims about a rivalry that is no doubt great but still pales in comparison to what i am about to mention. This is no where NEAR as fierce as the football rivalry between ARGENTINA and BRAZIL. Read the history of the two countries, see their passion for football, watch what happens when they meet on the field and among their fans… there I told you. Now, will you have a cure for cancer? No. Moral of the story: you can write a decent piece without bordering on the absurd. Recommend

  • Dr Amyn Malik

    @iSayed:
    Mix Ginger Garlic with a pinch of Salt and Turmeric powder in it, blend it well till it becomes thick paste and then rub it on the cancer patient.Recommend

  • Senthilman

    I wish we have same kind of rivalries in developing our nations. Idiot politicians on both sides only concerned about how to make their families rich but not bothered about common man. We are suffering 10 hour power cut here in Chennai, do I bother about India Pakistan cricket rivalry?, no Sir I doubt I can see a single ball being bowled. Recommend

  • Pakistani Agnostic

    Only a fool would think Indians don’t give a damn about this match. I have visited almost 29 countries in the world and you could almost see the excitement on Indians and Pakistanis when their respective nations ply their trade against each other.
    Stop over-exaggerating your non-serious attitude towards Pakistan. Recommend

  • Two wrongs don’t make a right

    @ Rational Thinker

    Everything you have mentioned about Brazil vs Argentina is also true for Indian vs Pakistan. Regarding Passion in a sport, it’s relative. It depends on how you see the sport, I love football, but the fourth largest country in the world doesn’t even call it that. Point being passion is relative, I mean there are people that watch golf over other sports, so passion is not going to give the win to Argentina and Brazil being a greater rivalry. The easiest platform to compare rivalries on is simply the number of followers it has globally, and there is no other rivalry that comes as close to 1.2 billion plus when India and Pakistan play cricket.Recommend

  • Shabbir

    @Abeera: I work with about 50 Indians. I am the only one who religiously follows cricket. They only want to know when India is playing (that too only after the match they want the win/loss result) and whether Tendulkar scored a century. I watch more IPL than they do!
    I think the high volume of Indian cricket matches (test, t20, one day, IPL) has dampened the interest of the Indian audience. Recommend

  • Abeera

    i completely agree with two wrongs .. the only objective (without a bias) way to measure a rivalry is by measuring the viewers and thats what we call is the greatest sporting rivalry ever :D

    its gotten greater now i think .. haha

    and shabbir im sure these 50 people wont be able to resist this match and the indians i know here in pakistan start avoiding us when there is a matcchhhh .. they get offensive .. just like we do :DRecommend

  • Stewie Griffin

    “Show me a sporting rivalry greater than Pakistan-India and I will show you the cure for cancer”

    Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers

    Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens

    New York Yankees vs Boston Redsox.Recommend

  • Saad Talat

    Whenever you talk about Pakistan and India..specially in Cricket… A game is not considered as a game on both sides of the border…
    Match on 18th March is a big one.. But what about the Final of Asia Cup between Pak and India on 22nd March? which is most likely now..Not only Pakistan and India, But the cricket lovers from all over the world are waiting for it..
    Pathan VS Afridi
    Gul VS Tendulkar etc

    Lets see who beat the heat
    GoodLuck Pakistan!Recommend

  • Pakistani Agnostic

    @Stewie Griffin:
    I only know about ice hockey and considering both team’s recent fortunes, its only fair to say their rivalry is rather stupidRecommend

  • Waqar

    @faraz aziz:
    Did author mention religion in it….I don’t think so…So why did drag religion in it…..Recommend

  • Ali_

    Pakistan might loose and league match but ASIA cup will come to Pakistan. Its all fixed. The fixed part if just the Asia Cup. its was decided last march.

    The investigation into last years semi final is the answer to everything.Recommend

  • Ali_

    All those who are saying about other sports like football their inferiority complex is talking. They know very well this is much bigger than any match in any sport.Recommend

  • Raj

    I have watched India Pakistan matches with my Pakistani friends here in Canada. It is so much fun, we are eating and gossiping but cheering for our “own” teams. We always joke KARO-BAAR SAANJHA, TEAM AAPO APNI. Indo-Pak cricket rivalry is best in the Sports world. After playing, both teams get new energy and new enthusiasm. Let this healthy rivalry continue in future. I dream of an INDEPENDENCE CUP where India and Pakistan play five ODIs in the month of August in any part of the world. This INDEPENDENCE CUP will be bigger than IPL. Recommend

  • Nida Meyer

    Great article! enjoyed it …lets see final showdown cominggg sooon :PRecommend