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India and Pakistan clash is not just a game, but a culture war between two hostile countries, bigger than even the Finals

For a common Indian, the fight against Pakistan is a war no matter in what form it is manifested.

Across the world, it is often debated as which sporting event is considered to be the greatest rivalry in its history. Is it the El-Clasico or the historical rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool in English football? Or was it the contests between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe or Nadal vs Federer in Tennis?. Alain Prost vs Ayrton Senna in the Formula 1 or is it the Ashes between the oldest rivals in cricket- Australia and England.

None. It is India and Pakistan facing each other in a World Cup match. It is not just a sporting event but a sense of cultural war between two hostile countries which is indirectly manifested in the form of a cricket match. Both India and Pakistan have managed to keep these sporting events as a ‘Quasi-war’ despite the stakeholders claiming the rivalry as just a sporting event.

The battle between the two teams is so intense such that more than a billion people are stuck to their TVs with two economies stuck in a state of pause as the minds and hearts of the fellow countrymen stay glued on the scoreboard. It is not just typical sporting rivalries where two teams play out against each other. While one team loses after an intense game and all of them go home as the match ends and everybody ends up being happy ever after.

No, it is not the case with India-Pakistan rivalry. The clash between two countries on a cricket ground is beyond any sporting events. It is not just 22 players sweating out in the field. It is the hope of more than a billion people as players on the field will be representing a whole country while carrying the burden of almost every individual belonging to their respective homeland.

It is some sort of a cultural war which is being fought in a different way – maybe with a bat and ball. But, the favouring results give a sense of satisfaction and glory similar to a victory what it could have been on a battlefield. Most of Indians share a similar sentiment even if the victory is a small one, be it on a different arena all together which has no connect to geopolitics wars.

India and Pakistan fighting each other in ICC Cricket World is arguably modern era’s greatest sporting event, not because of the sheer amount of viewership it garners but also because of sharing an honour of a ‘war sport’. In fact, in modern day cricket, India-Pakistan clash in the world cup is considered to be so as it devalues the importance of the all-important ‘Finals’ match. In fact, the players, fans and fellow countrymen believe that defeating their neighbouring team is itself a larger goal than winning the world cup itself. Winning a world cup without defeating Pakistan would be tantamount to a defeat for India.

Today, it has been synonymous with one of the eternal truths that India has never lost to Pakistan in the world cup. Almost everyone who follows cricket in India knows this fact. India has defeated Pakistan six times previously in the world cup clashes while Pakistan is still yet to taste victory against India in world cup history.

Here is the summary of the clashes between India and its hostile neighbour Pakistan.

  • March 4, 1992, Sydney: The India and Pakistan clashed for the first time in the World Cup in 1992 in Australia. On March 4, 1992, India defeated Pakistan by 43 runs at Sydney Cricket Ground, registering its first victory over arch-rival Pakistan in world cup event.
  • March 9, 1996, Bangalore, Quarter-Final: The second victory came on March 9, 1996, Bangalore, in a quarter-final match, where India had won by 39 runs. Navjot Singh Sidhu had anchored the Indian batting and top-scored with 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s cameo of 45 of 25 balls by decimating Waqar Younis was the game-changer for India. Amir Sohail dismissal to Venkatesh Prasad has been one of the most celebrated events in India’s cricketing history.
  • June 8, 1999, Manchester: India’s third victory against Pakistan in World Cup came in 1999 world cup at Manchester, Jun 8 1999, the same venue in which India will be taking on Pakistan two decades later. India had won by 47 runs.
  • March 1, 2003, Centurion: Despite Saeed Anwar’s hundred in the first innings, Pakistan lost the match to India by 6 wickets thanks to a partnership between  Dravid and Yuvraj Singh. The 2003 world cup match is also an important clash as Pakistan had fielded its deadliest trio of legend Wasim Akram, Waqar Younus and Rawalpindi express Shoaib Akthar. The uppercut by Sachin Tendulkar to Shoaib Akhtar over the third man for a six still reverberates in minds of every Indian who had witnessed that.
  • March 30, 2011, Mohali, Semi-Final: Considered to be one of the closest and crucial victories for Indian side during its road to 2011 World cup victory, Pakistan was very close to defeating India during one phase of the game before displaying their usual instincts.  India won by 29 runs to reach its third world cup final.
  • February 15, 2015, Adelaide: With Virat Kohli scoring a century – 107 and considerable performance from Shikhar Dhawa and Suresh Raina’s had helped India posted 300 on board, making it the highest total for India in World Cup clashes against Pakistan. Pakistan fizzled out for just 224, making it as one of the easiest victories against Pakistan in World cup.

Despite the claims of peaceniks, that India and Pakistan clash on the field is just one of those everyday sporting events that occur across the world, the common folks in the country see it as a victory beyond a mere sporting exercise and are proud of the fact that India has the ability to show Pakistan its deserving place not only in war field but also in global non-military, cultural or sports events. For a common Indian, the fight against Pakistan is a war no matter in what form it is manifested.

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