World Cup History: Three best wins for India against Pakistan

C. Namasivayam

One of the long-lasting memories of India-Pakistan encounter

India and Pakistan will meet for the seventh time in a 50-over World Cup on Sunday, the 16th June 2019. In all the six previous occasions, it has been India all the way. Team India’s victories came across continents and across generations. India meeting Pakistan has been a marquee event in every World Cup.

India’s below-par performances in the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979 ensured that they never went on to meet Pakistan. While most of the current generation was aware who was the champion of World Cup 1983,  what they were not aware was Pakistan was one of the semi-finalists in World Cup 1983 before they ran into the mighty West Indies in the semi-final.

In the World Cup 1987, India’s huge win over New Zealand in the last league match ensured that they avoided meeting Pakistan in the semi-final at Lahore. It was another matter that both the teams were knocked out in the semi-final at their respective homes. By that time, the organizers, ICC, and broadcasters realized that there should be a meeting of the giants in every World Cup at the league stage itself to cover up any eventuality at a later stage.

It all started for India at Sydney in World Cup 1992 and continued through World Cups 1996,1999 and 2003. In World Cup 2007 both India and Pakistan suffered shocking defeats against Bangladesh and Ireland respectively in the preliminary rounds and bowed out of the tournament.

India’s golden run against Pakistan in World Cups was once again revived from World Cup 2011 and continued into World Cup 2015. Now the arch-rivals are all set to meet for the seventh time with the pressure more on India to keep their unbeaten record intact.

The World Cup 2019 has turned out to be a wet blanket so far with very little action in the middle testing out the patience of all ardent cricket fans. One means of venting out the frustration arising out of washouts and staying positive is to concentrate on writing and reading by flipping through the pages of the history of the World Cup.

In this article, let us revisit India’s best wins against Pakistan in World Cups.

#3 Group Stage, Centurion, 2003

Sachin played the best innings by an Indian batsman against Pakistan in a World Cup encounter

India met Pakistan in the super six stages of World Cup 2003 at Centurion. The Indians were on a high after winning every previous match of the tournament except the match against Australia. Pakistan was on their way out of the tournament. But they had a score to settle against India.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. This was the only time Pakistan batted first against India in the six World Cup encounters.

Helped by a customary century from Saeed Anwar against India, Pakistan reached a formidable score of 273. The stiff target obligated a flying start from the Indian openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag against Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar.

The Indian openers were in a murderous mood. Tendulkar was in his element from the first ball he faced as he drilled Shoaib Akhtar for six and two fours in the second over of the innings. His aggressive intent got Sehwag going too as he pasted Waqar Younis for a four and six in one over.

Akram was not spared either as India’s 50 came in the fifth over. But the wickets of Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly off successive deliveries brought some sanity to the proceedings as the new batsman Mohammad Kaif took time to settle down.

But Sachin was unstoppable on that day as he reached his 50 off 37 balls with 6 fours and one six. Akhtar, who gave away 18 runs in his first over, was brought back for his second spell. Sachin hit him out of the attack scoring 18 runs in his next 2 overs. India reached 100 in the 12th over.

It was Akhtar who finally removed Tendulkar with a short delivery when on 98. But by then India reached a score of 181 in 28 overs. Tendulkar has just played the best innings by an Indian against Pakistan in a World Cup match.

Yuvraj Singh gave the finishing touches to India’s chase with a 50 while Rahul Dravid remained not out on 44. India eased into a comfortable win against arch-rivals Pakistan in a World Cup match yet again. This match will be remembered for Sachin’s hurricane innings and Sehwag’s contribution to the opening stand.

#2 Quarter-final, Bangalore, 1996

Venkatesh Prasad - The hero of India's win against Pakistan in World Cup 1996

India and Pakistan met in the quarterfinals of World Cup 1996 at Bangalore. This was the first time that both the teams were meeting in a World Cup knock out game. Pakistan was the then-defending champion playing the quarterfinals on Indian soil. If they could go past India, they had the luxury of playing their semi-final and final in Pakistan.

For India, they were playing in a World Cup at home after 9 years and the minimum expectation from the public was a place in the semi-final. A lot was at stake as these two teams lock horns at Bangalore.

The match started for India on a positive note on two counts. First, the Pakistan captain and ace fast bowler Wasim Akram was unfit to play the match which was a huge blow for Pakistan. In the absence of Akram, Aamir Sohail was leading Pakistan who lost an important toss and his team was sent into the field on a hot afternoon in Bangalore.

The Indian openers Navjot Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar put on 90 runs for the first wicket before Sachin was cleaned up by Ata-ur-Rehman. Sidhu was steady at the other end as he scored 93. At one point of time, Pakistan was looking to restrict India to a total of 250 or less.

But Ajay Jadeja had other ideas as he struck into Waqar Younis who ended up leaking 40 runs in his last two overs. Pakistan was sorely missing Akram and his yorkers at the death. Even Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath took advantage of the situation and helped themselves to a couple of sixes. India scored 57 runs in the last 4 overs to reach 287.

In reply, Pakistan openers were off to a good start and reached 84 by the 10th over before Srinath got the prize wicket of India’s tormentor Saeed Anwar. Pakistan was comfortably placed at 113 for 1 before the Pakistan Captain Aamer Sohail lost his head and got into a confrontation with Venkatesh Prasad after hitting him for a four. That altercation pumped up Prasad as he knocked over Sohail’s off-stump of the very next ball.

That moment of madness cost Pakistan the match as Prasad went on to claim the wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq. That broke the back of Pakistan’s middle-order as the chase became too difficult for veterans Saleem Malik and Javed Miandad. In the end, India marched to a famous win against Pakistan.

#1 Semi-final, Mohali, 2011

Yuvraj Singh came good with the ball against Pakistan at Mohali

India met Pakistan in the semi-final of World Cup 2011 at Mohali. The Indian captain MS Dhoni won an important toss and had no hesitation in deciding to bat first.

Virender Sehwag took care of the Umar Gul threat by discharging him for five fours in his second over. In no time, Sehwag reached 38 off 25 balls before losing his wicket in the sixth over of the innings.  Sachin Tendulkar was living dangerously at the other end and played a strange innings as he was dropped four times and saved by the technology twice. But he battled on to stay at the wicket to score a gritty 85.

With contributions from Dhoni (25) and Suresh Raina (36) in the end, India reached a fighting total of 260. In reply, Pakistan reached 100 for 2 before Yuvraj Singh got into the act with the ball. He dismissed Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan in successive overs.  Harbhajan Singh made further inroads into the Pakistan middle-order with the wickets of Umar Akmal and captain Shahid Afridi.

Misbah-ul-Haq waged a lone battle before he too perished in the last over of the match to leave India victorious by 29 runs.