India and Pakistan have been traditional rivals. From the days of independence - for India - and inception - for Pakistan, the two countries have shared a tense relationship. Little wonder then that the story has not been different on the cricket field as well.
Pakistan became a member of the International Cricket Council in 1948 and their tour to India for a Test series was the first ever. Such was the rivalry between the two countries that the hosts, despite winning the opening clash in Delhi, faced fans' wrath when they conceded the lead in Lucknow. While the series eventually went India's way (5 Tests series was won 2-1), the 'lot more than just cricket at stake' feeling prevailed and continues to some extent, till date.
Many experts believe that the reason for a number of drawn matches between the two teams is because both sides adopted defensive strategies against each other, lest they lose the match. India's tour in 1955 and Pakistan's tour here in 1961 ended in drawn matches. Pressure on players has always been high and an India-Pakistan match is mostly referred to as a clash rather than a game.
While players over the years have emphasized that rivalry is restricted to the pitch, that players of both sides get along really well off the playing area, fans from both sides have repeatedly shown that their passion for cricket increases by several notches when the two teams play each other.
Political and military relationship between India and Pakistan has also defined cricketing relations between the two nations and how the fans react to a match. While thousands of Indian fans were granted visas for the 1955 series and fans from Pakistan fans were returned the favour, wars in 1965 and 1971 put a temporary end to the cricketing ties between the two sides.
While the tensions then, ended briefly in 1978, terrorist attacks and subsequent wars have disrupted play again and again.
A term coined as a consequence was 'cricket diplomacy.' Both countries have actively used the game as a means to further the message of peaceful co-existence and understanding. This obviously when it has been realized that solutions to political, social, economic and geographical problems do not lie in having cricket teams from both sides not play each other. So, President Zia-ul-Haq was invited to watch the Test match being played in Jaipur in 1986-87 while more recently, Yousuf Raza Gilani was invited to Mohali for the quarter-final World Cup match between the two.
There have been factions in both countries who have been opposed to cricket, let alone cricket diplomacy. This continues, to some extent, till date. Fans though largely support active participation from both sides in tournaments, bilateral or otherwise. One of the most fondly remembered series between the two teams was the Sahara Cup which was played in a neutral venue - Toronto, Canada. Another exciting neutral venue has been Sharjah.
What makes India-Pakistan cricket rivalry even more exciting - apart from reasons stated above - is that fans from both sides have certain bragging rights. Indian fans repeatedly suggest that their team has never lost a World Cup match to Pakistan. Fans from across the border suggest that their team has won more ODI matches against India overall. While Indian batsmen and spinners have been its strength, it is well-known now that Pakistan has a commendable bench-strength in terms of raw-pace attack.
No history of Indo-Pak cricket though is complete without mentioning player-vs-player conflicts. So, whether it was Javed Miandad's kangaroo hop mocking Kiran More in the 1992 World Cup; Venkatesh Prasad's rare angst against Aamir Sohail after claiming his wicket in the 19996 World Cup or Gambhir and Afridi's verbal duel, allegedly full of 'pleasantries, this rivalry has given the world of cricket memories that adorn the cricketing archives.
In recent years, while some factors have remained stubbornly stoic, others have mellowed down by quite an extent. Attack on Indian parliament forced the country to suspend bilateral cricket with Pakistan - much like how it has been after similar incidents in the past. Arguing for or against it may also continue but the fact remains that fans from both sides have matured over the ages and now have a much higher respect for their team, their players, the rival players and the game that they know as the 'gentleman's sport.'
Test series between India and Pakistan:
1952-53: Hosts India won the 5-Tests series 2-1 with 2 matches ending with laurels shared.
1954-55: Hosts Pakistan and India drew the series 0-0.
1960-61: Hosts India drew Pakistan 0-0.
1978-79: Pakistan hosted India and won the 3-Tests series 2-0.
1979-80: India returned thr favour in front of home fans. Won the 6-Tests series 2-0.
1982-83: Pakistan won the 6-Tests series 3-0 at home.
1983-84: The 3-Tests series in India ended in a 0-0 draw.
1984-85: Pakistan drew India 0-0 in a 2-Tests series.
1986-87: Pakistan won the 5-Tests series in India 1-0.
1989-90: Pakistan hosted the series which ended in a 0-0 draw despite 4 Tests played.
1998- 99: Honours were shared once again. India hosted the 2-Tests series which ended 1-1.
2003-04: India won in Pakistan when it claimed two of the three Tests played here.
2004-05: Both teams won one each with the third Test played ending in a draw, in India.
2005-06: Pakistan won the series at home 1-0. 3 Tests were played.
2007-08: The last bilateral Test series played between the two was claimed by hosts India.
Overall, India has hosted 8 times against Pakistan's 7 (till 2007-08 series). Pakistan however has won 11 Tests against India's 9.
Story first published on: Monday, 10 December 2012 13:06 IST