Come Saturday, February 14, Indians and Pakistanis will be glued to their TV sets as the two neighbouring arch rivals in cricket will clashing at the Adelaide Oval in Australia in a Group B match.
The two rivals have a rich history of fierce battles on the cricket ground and each encounter sees partisan feelings rise to a feverish pitch on both sides.
Though Pakistan enjoys a considerable advantage in the overall One-Day International (ODI) head-to-head count, with 72 of the 126 battles, India possess a 5-0 scoreline to its credit in the World Cup history.
The build-up to the tournament has been overshadowed by the expectations of the fans on both sides over the outcome of the match as a victory against the traditional rival is as good as winning the Cup.
The hype is visible when the tickets for the eagerly-awaited contest were sold out in just 20 minutes for the 50,000-capacity stadium, while the South Australian government thought 20,000 Indian travellers would visit the marquee clash.
Many experts, former players and famous voices of the game, are all busy airing their opinion about the high-octane clash, hoping it to be the most watched match in the sport’s history, here is a quick glance at the past World Cup battles between the two traditional rivals:
1992 – India won by 43 runs: For the first time the two nations met at a World Cup match. India, buoyed by a young and emerging Sachin Tendulkar’s fine unbeaten knock of 54 runs, posted 216 and bowled out Pakistan for 173 to a record victory.
1996 – India won by 39 runs: This quarter-final match, played at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, saw opener Navjot Singh Sidhu score 93 to set India on a strong platform, middle-order batsman Ajay Jadeja put the finishing touches to the innings, blasting a 25-ball 45 that too on pacer Waqar Younis — to make India post 287 for eight.
Undaunted, Pakistan was aggressive and their openers Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail virtually took away the match but a middle-order collapse, triggered by tight slow bowling by spinners Anil Kumble and Venkatpathy Raju, paved India run in to victory, despite veteran batsmen Javed Miandad and Salim Malik.
1999 – India won by 47 runs: India chose to bat first for the 3rd consecutive Cup match and posted 227 for 6 wickets, thanks to some useful knocks from Tendulkar (45), Rahul Dravid (61) and skipper Mohammed Azharuddin (59). Pakistan in its batting went down dismissed for 180 in 45.3 overs. They crumbled mainly due to the pace duo of Venkatesh Prasad (5/27) and Javagal Srinath (3/37).
2003 – India won by 6 wickets: Though Pakistan was batting first this time, it couldn’t reverse the tide despite 273. Opener Anwar, always a threat to India, hit a century (101) but he was eclipsed by graceful score from Tendulkar (98) who, together with fellow opener Virender Sehwag (21), launched a stunning attack on the famed pace trio of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis. Dravid (44 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (unbeaten 50) made some crucial knocks to seal victory with 26 balls to spare in this match that went in favour of India.
2011 – India won by 29 runs: In this match, Tendulkar (85) again rose to the occasion in a crunch semifinal and helped India to make 260 for 9 wickets and the home team was well placed to post a victory despite restrain from left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz (5/46).
Pakistan in its response was typical and aggressive with a strong start followed by a middle-order failure again. The onus fell on Misbah-ul-Haq (56) to pull Pakistan through but he ran out of partners and finally was the last person to be dismissed. It was a bowlers’ match as Indian bowlers collectively put up a superb performance with all five frontliners picking up two wickets each for victory.