It is without a shadow of a doubt the biggest game in cricket and when India and Pakistan meet on the cricket field in a World Cup game it is even more so. As many eminent authors have stated plenty of times, India v Pakistan games personify George Orwell’s description of sports as ‘war minus the shooting’. Let’s look at some of the most interesting facts about the biggest show in world sports.
1. Pakistan has Never Beaten India in a World Cup Game
Now, this is one record that continues to baffle Pakistani fans and neutrals alike; while it remains a source of huge pride among Indian fans, who have to endure crushing losses at the hands of the dreaded opponents in other tournaments. Till data, India and Pakistan have met in 126 ODIs and the record is heavily lop sided in favour of Pakistan, who have won 72 against India’s 50; however that coveted win in the World Cup against their arch rivals continues to elude them. Pakistan have been beaten by India in all the 5 games in which the nations have faced off against each other in World Cups. Will the jinx be broken in Adelaide on 15th of February?
2. Sachin Tendulkar has Played in Every World Cup Game Between the 2 Nations
India and Pakistan have played each other 5 times in World Cups, with the first game being in 1992- the tournament in which the Little Master first represented India at the global tournament and since then he had played in each of those five games including the latest one being the semi final in 2011. Tendulkar is the only player from either of the two sides to have played in all the 5 games so far and during those games he emerged as the man with the highest average in these games with a tally of 78.25. The game in 2015 will be the first one in which India will take on the old enemy without their biggest ever match winner.
3. There has Only Been One Century in Indian v Pakistan Games in World Cups
When you consider the batting riches of the two sides then it is quite staggering to think that there has only been one century that has ever been scored in games between these two sides in the World Cup. The sole century was scored by Pakistani opening batsman Saeed Anwar in the 2003 World Cup game at Centurion Park. Anwar scored a polished century including 7 boundaries to end up with an eventual tally off 101 in 126 balls in Pakistan’s total of 273. The dearth of centuries in this fixture is also a demonstration of the sort of extreme pressure that the players are in.
4. Mohammad Azharuddin has Captained in Most Games in This High Pressure Fixture
The success or failure of a side in India v Pakistan games often depend on the leadership skills of the captain and even more so when it comes to a World Cup clash. In that regard former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin has proven to be the most prolific and successful captain across both sides having captained the team thrice. He was the Indian captain in 1992, 1996 and1999 when India beat Pakistan and that has made him the most successful captain in the history of this game, but also the captain who has led in the most number of games.
5. There Have only Been 2 Five Fors in This Fixture So Far
It is indeed staggering that in spite of the fact that there have only been 5 games between the two nations in World Cups thus far; the milestone of a 5 wicket haul has been achieved twice and that too in 2 different encounters. The first of the was achieved when Indian pacer Venkatesh Prasad took a brilliant 5-27 in a match winning effort against Pakistan at Old Trafford in the 1999 World Cup, while the second was achieved by Wahab Riaz in the 2011 World Cup semis when he snared 5 Indian wickets for 46 runs. Riaz however ended up in the losing side unlike Prasad.
6. India has Played at Home Twice but Pakistan have Never Had That Privilege
It is a well known fact that home advantage is a big thing in almost any sport and it is even more so in a game of this magnitude when two bitter rivals face off in a World Cup. Although it is true that India have been triumphant in neutral venues like Sydney, Manchester and Centurion Park; they were also the deserved winners when they played Pakistan in their own den in Bangalore in 1996 and then again at Mohali in 2011. So, it is worthwhile to point out that although Pakistan have never beaten India; they have not had the opportunity to play their rivals in their own backyard either.
7. Total bets in excess of $500 million is Wagered on An India v Pakistan World Cup Game
As everyone knows, cricket betting is huge in countries in which the practice is legal and due to the variety of markets offered by the leading bookmakers in a cricket game; it is not surprising that a jaw dropping amount of more than $500 million is wagered on an India v Pakistan game. It is the most watched game of cricket in the world and attracts huge bets from seasoned punters. To put it into perspective, the Super Bowl last time out attracted total bets of just over $100 million and to think that the India v Pakistan encounter attracts such staggering amounts of money is a testimony of the sort of popularity that the fixture enjoys.
8. Both Teams Will Be Represented by Fanatical Super Fans
The concept of super fans is quite new in cricket and that is something that first found acceptance among the Indian and Pakistani spectators; when the two factions became synonymous with 2 individuals who follow their teams all over the world. For Pakistan it is the now well known bearded chacha who literally wears the Pakistan flag and for India, it is Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary who paints his face and body in the Indian tri colour. Both individuals get a lot of help from cricket fans in their own countries in order to fund their away tours and other sundry expenses involved with following their cricket teams.
9. Both India and Pakistan Governments Declared Public Holidays On the Day of the Game in 2011
It is quite unprecedented for nation states to declare public holidays due to a sporting contest but as they say the game between India v Pakistan is often more than just a game of cricket. In addition to that, it was the semi final of the World Cup in 2011 which brought an even bigger edge to the contest and considering the fact that no one in their right minds in the two countries were going to attend work on that Wednesday; the two governments did the sensible thing and declared a public holiday. It is perhaps going to be the only instance in which it is ever going to happen again.
10. The 2011 Game Was The Most Watched Sports Event of All Time
At number is perhaps the most startling fact about an India v Pakistan game that might have gone unnoticed earlier but it is something that exemplifies why it is the biggest game in world cricket. At the time when India and Pakistan faced each other in that March afternoon in Mohali; a jaw dropping 988 million people tuned in to their TV sets from all over the world in order to catch quite possibly the game of the tournament. It remains the highest viewing numbers that has ever been generated by any sports event. The FIFA World Cup Final of 2010 generated 909 million, while the 2014 is known to have generated less as well.