No 53: India vs Pakistan

If you do love sports, you must have given a thought on the most heated and greatest rivalries in international sports atleast once. And your answers would depend a lot on your love for a particular sport, your perspective, age or country. But despite all there are few rivalries in global sports which no one could deny. So, give it a thought and tell me what comes to your mind?

May be the one between the boxing legends of the 70s – “Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali”  OR may be the Spanish football clubs – “Real Madrid vs. Barcelona” OR if you lived on the east coast of the states, you would think of “Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees” OR if you love Latin American nations, your vote would go for “Argentina vs. Brazil” in soccer OR for once you could think of “USA vs. China” in Olympics. I also asked this question to one of my classmates at London Business School wearing our rugby club hoodie and he told me – “Dude, it’s obvious – Australia vs. New Zealand!”. But probably neither of this would make sense to you if you belonged to the Indian subcontinent or love the true gentlemen’s game.

People in the Indian subcontinent think that “India vs. Pakistan in Cricket” is the answer and so does the Wall Street Journal to some extent. The rivalry that has been going on for over six decades brings the Indian subcontinent to a standstill drugging it with jingoism and chauvinism. Two nations, fought three wars and are bitter rivals in every sport they play, have had one of the closest encounters in every form of cricket with many matches going down to the last over.

My childhood memories of this rivalry goes back only to the early 90s when I started understanding this game and the defining moment being the famous tussle between “Venkatesh Prasad and Aamir Sohail” during the 1996 World Cup Quarterfinal match in Bangalore. Prasad, not the quickest among the Indian pack (actually we never had quick bowlers), beautifully answered to Aamir’s sledging (see the video below) by taking his wicket on the very next ball and became an overnight Indian hero. That moments – an Indian triumph, dance on the streets, firecrackers in every corner and even sounds of firing of guns in the air are still intact in my memories. That became the defining moment for me for this IndvsPak rivalry.

When I asked my father, he cited a different example as the defining moment for this rivalry but a bitter one for him and Indian supporters. Chetan Sharma, a hat-trick guy bowler during the 1987 World Cup, became a prey to Javed Miandad when Javed hit a last ball six to take Pakistan to victory in the Australasia Cup final, Sharjah in 1986 (see the video below).

The list doesn’t end here and there are many more games and things to write about IndvsPak. The league match superover and the final of the T20 World Cup 2007, the famous Chennai TestMiandad’s mocking of Kiran More, Sidhu’s anger by showing his bat to Aamir Sohail and Sachin’s cut to Six against Rawalpindi Express (Shoaib Akhtar) are some of the ‘ugly-lovely’ moments. And trust me, this has no end!!

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