By Obaid ur Rehman.
Pakistan and India are about to take on each other this Sunday in a Champions Trophy group match in Edgbaston, England. It will be the first ODI meeting between the two sides since the 2015 World Cup clash where India had beaten Pakistan in a group match. With immense buzz surrounding the contest, cricket fans on each side of the border and across the globe as well are eagerly and desperately waiting for the clash of titans. ICC Champions Trophy 2017 has just kicked off but more eyes are on Indo-Pak clash on Sunday, 4th June 2017 when two arch-rivals will face each other to kick off their Champions Trophy Assignment with a victory.
India and Pakistan have been placed in the same group by the ICC. Chief Executive ICC Dave Richardson, in a report had said that they try to put India and Pakistan in the same group because of the fact that Indo-Pak match always has a high popularity, drama and entertainment. He says that it was, it is and it will be a game that every Pakistani and Indian waits for. Last time when these two cricketing giants played each other in any ICC tournament, it was on 19th March, 2016 in ICC World Twenty-20 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
In the recent years, Indo-Pak Cricket has been affected badly by narrow mindedness of Indian Government and Cricket Board (BCCI) for always avoiding playing cricket and holding a bilateral series with Pakistan. India play with Pakistan only in ICC Tournaments just to get the profits and not letting their sponsors to suffer by forfeiting the match. Apart from ICC Events, there have been total two series being held between India and Pakistan in last 10 years. In 2007 and 2012, Pakistan visited India to play bilateral series. In the meantime, India have not even accepted to play at a neutral venue apart from UAE as well.
Well now Pakistan and India will compete each other in Edgbaston for the 4th time in ICC Champions Trophy. Before that, both the teams have met three times in the Champions Trophy tournaments with Pakistan winning two of those matches and one victory went in India’s favour. In 2004 and 2009, Pakistan defeated India in tough encounters, courtesy of brilliance to Muhammad Yousuf, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik who played match winnings knocks in those matches. In 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, India and Pakistan were also placed in the same group and the match was held at Edgbaston, Birmingham. India won the match by 8 wickets.
Pakistan have appeared at every ICC Champions Trophy tournament but the glittering gold trophy has evaded them every single time. However, men in green have somehow managed to reach the Semi Finals thrice, in 2000, 2004 and 2009. They have been unlucky in Champions Trophy tournaments so far, always running out of luck at crucial moments, resulting in their early elimination. India, the defending champion, have won the title twice, in 2002 and in 2013 whereas in 1998, India reached till Semi Finals. India have much better records in Champions Trophy as compared to Pakistan but Pakistan edge India in one-to-one meetings.
In the upcoming one of the most anticipated clashes of the tournament, India will try to equalize the one-to-one record against Pakistan and on the other end, the struggling Pakistan will try to begin their journey with victory to gain confidence. On papers, the Indian team is much stronger than that of Pakistan. India has shown magnificent performance in the recent past and with the likes of Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, the side is way too strong to beat.
Meanwhile on the other end, we have witnessed a struggling Pakistan side where players are always found struggling with form and fitness issue. Specially after Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi announced their retirement from ODI Cricket after ICC World Cup 2015, Pakistan team has been struggling in every department and finding it very difficult to get into a rhythm. But this will be a high profile match and in Indo-Pak matches, stats usually do not matter, so anything can happen. India can easily beat Pakistan whereas Pakistan possess abilities to destroy India in no time.
Right now, Pakistan is at number eight, lowest-ranked team in this year’s Champions Trophy but the Green Shirts, led by their young captain Sarfraz Ahmed, are looking forward to come from behind to beat the big guns ahead of them. Sarfraz Ahmed is making sure that his team feels no pressure ahead of the high-profile clash with arch-rivals India. We hope that Pakistan team will give its best in every department in every match. Pakistan now have to play by giving their 100% because they have got nothing to lose. Good Luck Green Shirts.
The writer is Islamabad based Research Analyst / Content Writer / Media Person and is currently pursuing his M. Phil. Degree in Media Studies from Bahria University Islamabad. He writes on Politics, Current Affairs, Social Issues and Sports and can be reached at;