KARACHI: What do Imran Khan, Aamir Sohail, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq have in common? They were all captaining the country when Pakistan lost to India in a World Cup fixture.
Sydney (1992), Bangalore (1996), Manchester (1999), Centurion (2003), Mohali (2011) and Adelaide (2015) have been the six venues where India prevailed over their fiercest rivals.
Having been placed in separate pools in each of the first four World Cups, Pakistan and India never played against each on the biggest stage, the closest they came when both co-hosts of the 1987 tournament suffered shock semi-finals defeats against eventual champions Australia and England, respectively.
Therefore, the first time they met was at the Sydney Cricket Ground. India scored 216-7 in 49 overs — courtesy of Pakistan one over less in the stipulated period. Sachin Tendulkar won his first of three World Cup man-of-the-match awards against Pakistan for his all-round contributions of 54 not out and a tidy 10-over spell of 1-37.
That clash made headlines for Javed Miandad’s ‘kangaroo’ dance after being agitated by Kiran More’s nonstop ranting and endless appealing behind the stumps.
Four years later, the these teams met in the quarter-final at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium but hours before the game started appointed captain Wasim Akram pulled out in dubious circumstances while citing a mystifying shoulder injury.
Vice-captain Aamir Sohail took over the leadership but the stand-in skipper lost the plot when he unnecessarily confronted Venkatesh Prasad. Pakistan were well on course in pursuit of a target of 288 as Aamir and fellow left-hander Saeed Anwar smashed 84 in the first over 10 overs.
The 35,000-strong crowd, which had gone silent, came to life when Prasad cleaned up Aamir with the very next delivery after being signalled by the opener to fetch the ball that sped to the boundary.
The Bangalore encounter was also Miandad’s final international appearance as the 38-year-old veteran was run out for a 64-ball 38 as the asking rate kept climbing.
Prasad was once again in the limelight three years later as the paceman thrived in English conditions to bag 5-27 in 9.3 overs while sending Pakistan hurtling to 180 all out after India had posted 227-6 in the Super Six clash at Old Trafford.
The scene then shifted to the SuperSport Park in Centurion for another mouthwatering tussle between the Asian giants. Opting to bat first, Pakistan collected a competitive 273-7 on the back of a sublime 101 off 126 balls by Saeed Anwar.
The second half of the match produced the most enthralling of individual battles when Shoaib Akhtar — arguably the quickest fast bowler in that 2003 World Cup — Tendulkar came face-to-face. The Indian maestro won the one-to-one countdown hands down with an array of brilliant strokes — despite being hampered by cramps — one shot sailing high over the square third-man region for a six.
Shoaib finally dismissed Tendulkar but not before he had raced to 98 from 75 balls before Rahul Dravid (44) and Yuvraj Singh (50) saw India to victory in the 46th over with an unbroken partnership of 99.
The controversial format of the 2007 World Cup was one key factor that deprived Pakistan and India from progressing beyond the group stages after both suffered two defeats out of three games in their respective pools.
The closest game in terms of result was the 2011 semi-final World Cup at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. Mixture of atrocious Pakistan catching and contentious umpiring enabled India reach 260-9 — with Tendulkar the main beneficiary contributing a 115-ball 85 after being given palpably LBW to Saeed Ajmal on 23 but the Hawk-Eye technology overruled the decision — while Wahab Riaz in a lionhearted effort to claim 5-46.
A number of critics maintained Pakistan could have ended their barren World Cup run against India had their batsmen been enterprising with Misbah coming in for a bit of stick after top-scoring with 56 from 76 balls as Pakistan fell for 231 in 49.5 overs.
Misbah again top-scored with 76 (84 balls) while being the captain in the 2015 fixture at the Adelaide Oval where India secured their biggest win by runs — 76 — after posting 300-7 with Virat Kohli (107 off 126 balls) while paceman Mohammed Shami picked up 4-35 as Pakistan folded up for 224 in 47 overs.
March 4, 1992 — Sydney, India won by 43 runs
March 9. 1996 — Bangalore, India won by 39 runs
June 8, 1999 — Old Trafford, India won by 47 runs
March 1, 2003 — Centurion, India won by six wickets
March 30, 2011 — Mohali, India won by 29 runs
Feb 15, 2015 — Adelaide, India won by 76 runs
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2019