Most of the nerve wrecking contests cannot match the sheer passion, audacity and excitement of cricket matches between India and Pakistan
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jan 30 - Feb 05, 2006
The recent Test and One Day International (ODI) series between India and Pakistan is being held at a time the two traditional rivals are actively involved in confidence building measures. These include people to people contact and exchange of cultural delegations but probably cricket diplomacy initiated in 1987 by President Zia-ul Haq will remain the most important initiative. Zia-ul Haq initiated this by visiting Jaipur to watch the Test and meeting with the then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The cricket diplomacy would long be remembered as an attempt to defuse tension between the two countries.
A new chapter in Pakistan-India history is being written at present. In addition to the sponsorship Allianz has undertaken a unique initiative - The Allianz Cup Signature Drive. The campaign has been undertaken in both India and Pakistan with the aim to collecting signatures from general public, containing messages of support and encouragement for both teams for the Allianz Cup. The drive was aimed at getting a total of one million signatures, half from Pakistan and half from India.
It may be worth mentioning that Allianz and Pakistan Cricket Control Board had signed an agreement. The series has been named Allianz Cup. This is the first ever test cricket series sponsorship by Allianz Group.
The Ashes played between Australia and England, the Frank Worell Trophy played between Australia and the West Indies, or the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for which India and Australia lock horns against each other - all these nerve wrecking contests cannot match the sheer passion, audacity and excitement of matches between India and Pakistan. Since India's Lala Amarnath and Pakistani captain Abdul Hafeez Kardar went out for the toss at New Delhi's historic Feroze Shah Kotla ground on 16th October 1952, the two teams had been involved in several nail-biting encounters and many memorable moments and many records have been created. There has also been political interference in the game. Right-wing Shiv Sena activists dug up the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai leading to the cancellation of a tour in the 1990s. But they failed to prevent the 1999 Test in New Delhi from taking place even after digging up the pitch there.
The first long disruption since 1952 came in the 1960s and 1970s. After Pakistan's tour of India in 1960-61, when all five Tests were drawn, one repercussion of the wars between the two countries was that no Test was played between them for nearly 18 years. When the cricket ties resumed with India's tour to Pakistan in 1978, the first Test was at Faisalabad's Iqbal Stadium. It was the match in which Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev made his debut.
In 1987, with the armies of both countries taking up positions on the border, President Zia-ul Haq visited Jaipur to watch the Test as part of the "cricket diplomacy". Zia's meeting with the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi defused tension. Zia was apparently a fan of the great Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar. When the master opener played his 100th Test at Lahore during the 1984 tour of Pakistan, Zia presented him an expensive carpet.
Overall, India and Pakistan have played 50 Test matches against each other, with India winning 7 Tests and Pakistan winning 10 Tests. 33 Tests have been drawn. Apart from these bilateral series, India and Pakistan have witnessed some thrilling encounters in one-day internationals in neutral venues like Sharjah and Toronto and multi-national tournaments like the Independence Cup, Asia Cup and of course the World Cup. India and Pakistan have locked horns four times in the World Cup and in all the four times India emerged victorious - Sydney in 1992, Bangalore in 1996, Manchester in 1999 and Centurion in 2003.
India and Pakistan have played six matches against each other in the Asia Cup. Pakistan have won three matches, India won two matches and one match ended without a result. India and Pakistan played the Sahara Cup in Toronto in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Pakistan won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1996 (3-2), India won (4-1) in 1997 and Pakistan again won (4-1) in 1998. India and Pakistan have met only once in the Independence Cup - at Chennai in 1997 when Saeed Anwar notched the highest score (194) in the history of one-day cricket.
But it is Sharjah where Pakistan almost every time have had the upper hand over India. India and Pakistan have played 24 ODIs in Sharjah and India has won only six times. Pakistan has beaten India 18 times at the desert venue. That match winning last-ball six that Miandad hit off Chetan Sharma is still etched fresh in every cricket-enthusiast Indian's mind. Overall, India and Pakistan have played 95 ODIs out of which India has won 33 matches and Pakistan has emerged victorious on 58 occasions. Four matches ended without result.
India's historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, where the visitors won both the Test and one-day series (both a first for India on Pakistani soil), will be remembered for bringing together the people of the two South Asian countries like never before. Unprecedented scenes of camaraderie and bonding were witnessed, especially in Lahore, between the thousands of Indians, especially Sikhs from the Indian Punjab, and Pakistanis. For the Indian visitors, hotels changed menu on Navratri, a religious festival during which Hindus don't eat meat, and shopkeepers offered heavy discounts. In many places, taxi drivers were ready to give free rides. Faces painted with Indian and Pakistani flags on both cheeks gave the series an atmosphere of friendship that helped it gain a global exposure. The UN was so impressed with the bonhomie between the people and players of the supposedly rival countries that it appointed the Indian and Pakistani teams as "spokespersons" for the UN International Year of Sports and Physical Education 2005.
Virender Shewag became the first Indian to score a triple century in Test cricket, 309 at Multan 2004. Saeed Anwar score 194 in Chennai to create new world record of highest run scorer in an inning in one day cricket. Miandad's 280, not out, was the highest score from a Pakistani against India. Imran took 40 wickets in 1982 series to become first Pakistani to achieve this tally in a series. Zaheer Abbas scored three back to back centuries in 1982 series. One of the most memorable events was leg-spinner Anil Kumble's 10-wicket haul for 74 in an innings at New Delhi in 1999. This happened only the second time in the 128-year history of Test cricket. India never lost to Pakistan in any of the world cup match.
The bustling port city, Karachi, is situated on the southern tip of Pakistan at the mouth of the Arabian Sea. It is Pakistan's largest city and its commercial and industrial nerve centre. This large metropolis is home to more than 10 million and is the capital of Pakistan's southern province, Sindh. Karachi' National Stadium is one of the two grounds, which are wholly owned by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the other being Gadaffi Stadium at Lahore. These two stadiums were completely refurbished for the World Cup. The National Stadium is also one of the oldest venues in the country, having hosted a test match against India as back as 1955. Until the series against England in 2000 Pakistan had never lost at the stadium, but England's dramatic late victory in the decisive 3rd Test ended Pakistan's unbeaten sequence of 32 matches at the ground. Karachi has a very rich tradition of cricket, and has over the years, provided the National team with some of its finest talent, especially in the batting department. Maestro's such as Hanif Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and recently an all-rounder Shahid Khan Afridi, who made fame by smashing the fastest One Day International century off 37 balls. Notable individual performances at the stadium include the 211 made by Miandad against Australia in 1988, and the best bowling figure of 8-60 by Imran Khan against India. In the last match played at this stadium in 2004 Danish Kaneria's made 10 wicket haul, while Inzimam-ul-Haque and Younus Khan scored centuries .
KARACHI IS AS SAFE OR AS DANGEROUS AS ANY OTHER CITY
On December 20, 1989, an India-Pakistan one-dayer at Karachi was abandoned after just 14 overs. As Pakistan struggled at 28 for 3, sections of the crowd hurled stones on the ground and forced the game to be called off once and for all.
In the last 16 years, Indian cricket teams have visited Karachi twice - both memorable occasions that produced nail-biting contests - but security concerns have meant that the trips have been brief and over in a flash.
Karachi has also been in the eye of the storm a few times in the past, most notably when New Zealand called off their tour in 2002 after a bomb blast outside their hotel. Since then, only Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have played a Test here and several teams, including India on their previous tour, preferred to play just a lone one-dayer in the city. That game, however - when the crowd rose to the occasion and cheered the Indians after an astonishing match - sent out a clear message: Karachi was safe, Karachi deserved more cricket.
That ODI was also a watershed moment for the Karachi Police, according to Inspector Chowdhury Mohammad Yousuf, currently in charge of the security branch. "Everything went according to plan in that game," he told Cricinfo, "and we have used that as a blueprint for every game since then. We realised that we needed to get more professional and needed to plan till the last detail."
This time too, the Indian board took great pains to ensure that all security arrangements were in place and decided to review the arrangements a couple of days before the game. Yousuf went on to explain the arrangements in detail, talking about static pickets, mobile patrols, motorcycle patrols, intelligence division, mounted police and aerial surveillance.
"More than 3000 of the police force have been put in charge," he continued, "and we have accounted for all threat levels. A central control room has also been set up in the National Stadium, from where all security activities would be monitored."
On the surface, the security arrangements aren't different from any other Test in the series, but Yousuf insists that the "scrutiny levels" will be far greater. "After all," he adds, "even the most minor incident will be blown out of proportion."
Apart from the cricket, Yousuf has other big things on his mind. On the evening of the first day of the Test (January 29) a Bryan Adams concert is scheduled, an important occasion for the city considering that it's the first ever time that a big western pop star will perform here.
Yousuf couldn't hide his joy at Karachi getting a chance to stage two big events simultaneously and felt it was an ideal chance for the fans to prove themselves to the world community. "Karachi is as safe or as dangerous as any other city," he adds, "and within five days you will be saying the same."