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Is India and Pakistan`s cricketing rivalry the greatest in world sport?

21 August, 2019

The passion and intensity of cricket matches between India and Pakistan means that this match-up is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting sporting rivalries on our great planet.

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It’s a fixture which brings the entire subcontinent to a standstill, with tens of millions of people glued to television screens to watch these two proud cricketing nations do battle – and it’s about more than just a ball of red leather.

The tension between India and Pakistan proceeds any cricketing event. The partition of British India into India and Pakistan and the subsequent Indo-Pakistani and Kashmiri conflicts are always at the forefront of the mind when these two countries lock horns on the cricket field. Although there have been times where India vs Pakistan fixtures have offered the chance for political diplomacy, there has always been an undercurrent of displeasure between the two sets of teams and supporters. Both Indian and Pakistani teams past and present have been under extreme pressure from their people to win and get one up on their long-standing neighbours. Interestingly, even former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan has now opted to go into politics and is currently the country’s Prime Minister; recently warning India over its annexation of Kashmir.

Since 1952-53, there have only been 15 test series between the two nations, such is the logistical nightmare of arranging such occasions. Of the 58 tests played, a whopping 38 have been drawn, while Pakistan still retains the upper hand, winning 11, compared with nine for the Indian national side. It’s a similar case in the one-day international scene, where Pakistan have dominated for long spells, winning 36 to India’s 27 in 65 meetings.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

The India Vs Pakistan rivalry came back into the spotlight earlier this summer during the 2019 Cricket World Cup, hosted in England and Wales. Over a billion Indians and Pakistanis tuned in from all four corners of the globe to watch India and Pakistan do battle in their group stage game in Old Trafford, Manchester. Astonishingly, there were over 700,000 requests for tickets, with even those living in the subcontinent attempting to use e-wallets to get tickets at the lowest possible currency exchange. India eventually coasted to an 89-run victory, with some Pakistani fans feeling as upset about losing to their closest rivals than they would if they’d lost in the final.

As former Pakistani batsman and now chief selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq rightly puts it, contests between India and Pakistan are “like the final before the final”. However, many former players from India Vs Pakistan battles of generations gone by are urging the people of India and Pakistan to use these fixtures as a chance to embrace peace and friendship between the two nations as part of a new era.

Former Pakistan captain and searing fast bowler, Wasim Akram called upon both sets of fans to “stay graceful and do not take this [fixture] as a war”. Akram insisted that those who did portray the fixture as a war were “not true cricket fans”. On the other side, former Indian skipper, Bishan Singh Bedi echoed the words of Wasim Akram and implored a fair, competitive game “without losing out on the etiquette of cricket”. Etiquette or not, it’s clear that this fixture means more to a single demographic in the subcontinent than any other sporting event in the world.

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