When India beat Pakistan by 89 runs at the 2019’s World Cup, there was a sense of déjà vu across Pakistani. The cricket-mad country of 192 million was once again going down to an old sporting rival. To make matters worse, one of the country’s greatest cricket players, Imran Khan, is now Pakistan’s president. For most fans, the election of Khan heralded good tidings for the sport he so much adored. However, things haven’t turned out this way.
Greatest Sporting Rivalries
The mention of Pakistan vs. India in the cricket world conjures a wide range of emotions. It is one of the most intense sporting rivalries in history. When you add politics into the mix, you get one of the most anticipated matches at any Cricket World Cup. It is a rivalry that goes way back to the 1950s when Pakistan’s cricket team toured India.
According to Forbes, Pakistan’s game against India at the Cricket World Cup was the biggest sporting event in the world back in June 2019. The TV audience for the match was almost ten times that of the Super Bowl. Only the World Cup Final and the UEFA Champions League Final would have topped the weekend event.
The most interesting bit about this rivalry is that for years now, it has become one-sided. Out of the 7 World Cup Matches played between the two countries, Pakistan has not won any yet.
Pakistan has indeed won two of the three matches against India in the Champions Trophy. However, when it matters most at The World Cup, the team has not performed.
A Look at the Historical World Cup Losses for Pakistan
It was George Santayana who succinctly remarked: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
It seems that Pakistan, despite its amazing cricket talent, hasn’t learnt from the harsh history against India
To appreciate the disappointment of fans across the country, you only have to look at similar events they have had to suffer the same traumatic experience. Take a look:
1. 1992 Benson Hedges World Cup, Sydney
This was the fifth edition of the Cricket World Cup, but until then Pakistan had not yet met its neighbors. It was one of the most exciting matches of course featuring some of the greatest cricket players including 39-year-old Imran Khan for Pakistan and the 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar for India
Pakistan had started the tournament poorly, and India had not recorded a win before the match. Well, Pakistan lost two early wickets and never recovered. Surprisingly, they went on to win the tournament.
2. 1996 World Cup, Bangalore
The sporting rivalry was now a major attraction at the global sporting event. This matchup was on India’s soil. Once again, their team won the toss and batted first. They went ahead to set the pace with 287 runs. Pakistan also started strongly, but things turned bad with the team eventually losing by 39 runs.
3. 1999 World Cup, England
During the ICC World Cup at the Old Trafford Manchester, Pakistan was to meet India once again. This was one of the worst Indian teams having lost to Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia.
There was hope that the stronger Pakistan team would change the tide. India started cautiously, and Pakistan took the advantage only to find themselves all-out for just 180. Pakistan’s battling unit simply crumbled on the face of the duo Prasad and Javagal Srinath.
4. 2003, ICC World Cup in South Africa
The new millennium didn’t change things for the Pakistan team. Their team was woeful, and eventually, India won the matchup again. This time, however, it was by 6wickets with 26 balls remaining.
India had Tendulkar. And it was not easy to stop the player of the series and the player who eventually had the most runs
5. 2011 ICC World Cup in Mohali, India
This was the second semi-final, and as usual, there was a lot of anticipation for great sporting action. India won the toss and batted. They made 260 runs in their 50 overs while losing nine wickets.
With great internet connectivity, cricket fans could not enjoy the action more with cricket in-play betting as the action continued
Pakistan started admirably, but the fielders let the team down. India went on to win the tournament after beating Sri Lanka
6. 2015 ICC World Cup in Adelaide, Australia
Pakistan started slowly but steadily, and then things went haywire, and the team was all-out for 224. India had a new star in Virat Kohli who smashed 107 runs. Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina added to the tally to put 300 on the board. India won by 76 runs.
This was the precedent before the recent game at Old Trafford on 16th June 2019. The Pakistan team lost once again, and there was a sigh of dejection amongst Pakistan cricket fans
In the aftermath, Sarfaraz Ahmed and the team management drew a lot of flak from former cricketers and fans on social media.
Maybe learning from history for both strengths and weaknesses will make Mickey Arthur the head coach rethink strategy for the team?