The India–Pakistan cricket rivalry is one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world. The matches between these neighbouring countries are known for its intensity. It is considered as one of the biggest matches in the world, and is among the most-viewed sport games. It is often termed as the El Clásico of cricket.
The tense relations between the two nations, resulting from bitter diplomatic relationships and conflict that originated during the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, the Indo-Pakistani Wars, and the Kashmir conflict, laid the foundations for the emergence of an intense sporting rivalry between the two nations who had shared a common cricketing heritage.
The two sides first played in 1952, when Pakistan toured India. Tests and, later, limited overs series have been played ever since, although a number of planned tours by both sides have been cancelled or aborted due to political factors. No cricket was played between the two countries between 1962 and 1977 due to two major wars in 1965 and 1971, and the 1999 Kargil War and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks have also interrupted cricketing ties between the two nations.
The growth of large expatriate populations from both countries across the world led to neutral venues, including the United Arab Emirates and Canada, hosting bilateral and multilateral One Day International (ODI) series involving the two teams and the teams have met during International Cricket Council (ICC) competitions. Tickets for matches in which the two teams play each other at international competitions are in high demand, with over 800,000 applications for tickets made for the 2019 Cricket World Cup meeting between the two sides; the television transmission of the match was watched by 273 million viewers.
Players from both teams routinely face intense pressure to win and are threatened by extreme reactions in defeat. Extreme fan reactions to defeats in key matches have been recorded, with a limited degree of hooliganism. At the same time, India–Pakistan matches have also offered opportunities for cricket diplomacy as a means to improve relations between the two countries by allowing heads of state to exchange visits and cricket followers from either country to travel to the other to watch the matches.
The Partition of British India in 1947 that led to the creation of independent Indian and Pakistani states was characterised by bloody conflict between ethnic groups that left one million people dead and led to the mass-migration of an estimated ten million people to the nation of their choice. The legacy of Partition and subsequent territorial disputes have helped create intense rivalries in field hockey, association football, and especially in cricket, which had been developed during British colonial rule and is the most popular sport in both nations.
Pakistan became a member of the Imperial Cricket Conference (now the International Cricket Council) in 1948, becoming a Full Member in July 1952. Their tour of India later the same year saw the team play their first Test matches. They lost the first Test in Delhi to India, but won the second Test in Lucknow, which led to an angry reaction from the home crowd against the Indian players. India clinched the Test series after winning the third Test in Bombay, but the intense pressure affected the players of both teams to the point that they pursued mainly defensive tactics that led to drawn matches and whole series without a victory. When India toured Pakistan in 1955, thousands of Indian fans were granted visas to go to the Pakistani city of Lahore to watch the Test match, but both the 1955 series and Pakistan's tour of India in 1961 ended in drawn series, with neither team being able to win a single Test match. Complaints about the fairness of umpires became routine.
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and subsequent War of 1971 put a hold on matches between the two sides that lasted till 1978, when India toured Pakistan and cricket between the two countries resumed for a brief period. In the post-1971 period, politics became a direct factor in the holding of cricketing events. India has suspended cricketing ties with Pakistan several times following terrorist attacks or other hostilities. The resumption of cricketing ties in 1978 came with the emergence of heads of government in both India and Pakistan who were not directly connected with the 1971 war and coincided with their formal initiatives to normalise bilateral relations. Shortly after a period of belligerency during the Operation Brasstacks war games, Pakistani president Zia-ul-Haq was invited to watch the India–Pakistan Test being played in the Indian city of Jaipur. This form of cricket diplomacy has occurred several times. Pakistan toured India in 1979, but an Indian tour of Pakistan in 1984 was cancelled mid-way through the series due to the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In the late 1980s and for most of the 1990s, India and Pakistan played each other only at neutral venues such as Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and in the Canadian city of Toronto, where large audiences of expatriates regularly watched matches between the sides. The series between the teams in Canada in the 1990s and early 2000s were officially known as the "Friendship Cup". Sharjah, even though a neutral venue, was considered as the "back yard of Pakistan" given the close proximity and the massive support the team generated.
The rise of multinational competitions such as the Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, the Austral-Asia Cup, and the Asia Cup led to more regular, albeit briefer, contests between the two sides.
In 1999, immediately following Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's historic visit to Pakistan, the Pakistani team toured India for a series of Test matches and One Day Internationals. The Kargil War later in the year caused tensions between the countries and cricket was again suspended. Vajpayee's peace initiative of 2003 led to India touring Pakistan after a gap of almost 15 years. Subsequent exchange tours were held in 2005 and 2006 before the 2008 Mumbai attacks led to the suspension of India's planned tour of Pakistan in 2009 and all future engagements in Pakistan. India has refused to play any form of series against Pakistan since then.
The 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team in Lahore led to the suspension of international tours of Pakistan, with no Test series played in the country for a decade and Pakistan was removed as a co-host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup which had been due to be played across the Indian subcontinent. India and Pakistan qualified for the first semi-final of the tournament and the Indian government invited the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the match along with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh.
Bilateral ties finally resumed when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invited the Pakistan national team to tour India for three ODIs and two T20Is in December 2012. In June 2014, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that an agreement to play six bilateral series across eight years between the two teams had reached. After lengthy negotiations involving offers and counter-offers on the venues and scheduling of the first of these series in December 2015, the boards were unable to reach an agreement. In May 2017, the BCCI accounted that it would need approval from the Indian government before a bilateral series could go ahead. There was no further progress, despite members of both boards meeting in Dubai to discuss the matter.
In October 2021, during the T20 World Cup, the teams played their 200th international match against each other. Pakistan won the fixture by ten wickets, their first in 13 attempts against India in World Cup tournaments of either format.
In October 2021, following a meeting with the ACC, Ramiz Raja confirmed that Pakistan would host the Asia Cup in 2023, with Sri Lanka hosting the 2022 edition. In October 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary and ACC President Jay Shah announced that India would not travel to Pakistan, citing security concerns, and that the Asia Cup 2023 would take place in a neutral venue. In December 2022, the then PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said that Pakistan might consider pulling out of the tournament if their hosting rights were withdrawn because of India's unwillingness to travel to Pakistan. The PCB had threatened to boycott the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to send a team to the Asia Cup. This issue would later be resolved, and Pakistan also eventually participate in the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India.
In January 2023, ACC confirmed the teams and groups of the Asia Cup, with both India and Pakistan taking part. In March 2023, it was proposed that Pakistan remain as hosts and that all India matches - including at least two India-Pakistan contests - would be played at a neutral venue yet to be confirmed. The hybrid model proposed by Pakistan was rejected by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In response, PCB Chairman Najam Sethi proposed two options. The first option was that India play all their matches at a neutral venue with Pakistan hosting the rest of the teams. The second option was that four matches in the group stage take place in Pakistan whereas the second phase, in which matches played by the Indian team followed by the next stage matches including the final, be played at a neutral venue. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh agreed to the second option. On 15 June 2023, the Asian Cricket Council announced that the tournament would be organized in a hybrid model with four matches being held in Pakistan, and the remaining nine in Sri Lanka.
India and Pakistan met twice in this Asia Cup. Though the first match in the Group stage yielded a no result due to rain, India defeated Pakistan by an enormous margin in the Super Four clash between the 2 sides, scoring 356 for the loss of only 2 wickets. India in this match not only set their highest-ever score in ODI cricket against Pakistan, but also defeated them with the highest ever run margin of 228 runs, bundling Pakistan out for 128. India would eventually go on to win this Asia Cup, while Pakistan would be knocked out in the super-fours round.
The two sides have played a total of 206 times. Pakistan has won 88 matches compared to India's 74 victories. In Test matches and ODIs, Pakistan has won more matches than India, although India has won eight of the twelve T20 International between the two sides.
India has the better record in the Cricket World Cup, having faced Pakistan 8 times in the Cricket World Cup since 1992. Pakistan have not managed to win a single game against India in the 31 years they have played against each other in World Cups. In the 2011 Cricket World Cup, India knocked out Pakistan in the semi-finals to qualify for the finals (which they subsequently won).
In T20 World Cups also, India has a superior record. India won the 2007 T20 World Cup by defeating Pakistan in the final. Pakistan registered its first ever win against India in a T20 World Cup match during the 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup.
In the Champions Trophy, however, Pakistan has won three of the five meetings between the two sides, including the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy Final, in which they defeated India after losing to them in the group stage. This was the second time the two teams had met in an ICC final after the T20 final in 2007. Pakistan are currently the tournament's defending champions.
The 2 sides currently do not play test matches with each other and have not met in the World Test Championship yet.
The teams have met on 19 occasions in the Asia Cup, including Twenty20 format matches. India has won ten of these meetings compared to Pakistan's seven victories with two match finishing as no result due to rain.
The two countries have played in World Cups, the Champions Trophy, and the World Test Championship, all of which are organised by the governing body of world cricket, the International Cricket Council.
India has won the ICC Cricket World Cup twice and Pakistan has done so once. Each side has won the ICC Men's T20 World Cup once, with the first edition of the tournament in 2007 featuring a final between the two sides which India won. In the ICC Champions Trophy, another ODI tournament, India won the trophy twice, while Pakistan won the 2017 edition, defeating India in the final. Neither team has won the World Test Championship, although India finished as runners-up in both the editions, having played in the finals.
Both teams have participated in 15 of the 16 Asia Cups hosted. India withdrew from the second edition of the Asian Test Championship, having only played the first while Pakistan took part in both editions.
Fifteen Test series have been played between the two sides, as well as a one-off Test played in February 1999 as part of the Asian Test Championship. India has hosted eight of the series, with 32 matches played at home as well as the one-off match in 1999. Pakistan has hosted seven series with 26 matches played at home. Each side has four series wins, although Pakistan has won more Test matches than India in matches between the two nations.
The two sides have played a total of 17 ODI series. Six of these have been played in India, while Pakistan has hosted seven series. Four series have been played in neutral venues, including three in Canada between 1996 and 1998 and one in the United Arab Emirates in 2006. Pakistan has won 11 of the series with India winning five. The two-match series held in the UAE was tied, each team winning one match.
The teams have only played one Twenty20 International series, a two match series played in 2012 as part of Pakistan's tour of India. Each team won one match, leaving the series drawn.
The two sides have played each other twelve times in Twenty20 Internationals (T20I). Seven of these matches have taken place during T20 World Cups, including their meeting during the final of the 2007 competition, and three at the Asia Cup. A single two-match T20I series was played in India in 2012.
The highest team score made in a T20I between the two nations was India's 192/5 made at Ahmedabad in December 2012. Pakistan's highest score against India in T20I is 182/5 made during 2022 Asia Cup match. The lowest score in a T20I between the two counties was Pakistan's 83 all out made at Dhaka during the 2016 Asia Cup.
The highest individual score made in a T20I between the two sides was Virat Kohli's 82 not out made in October 2022 during the 2022 ICC World Twenty20. India's Virat Kohli holds the record for the most runs scored overall in matches between the two sides with 488 runs scored in ten innings.
The best bowling performance in matches between the sides was the 4/18 taken by Mohammad Asif during the group stage meeting between the teams at the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. India's best bowling performance was the 3/8 taken by Hardik Pandya during the 2016 WorldT20. Pakistan's Umar Gul has taken the most wickets in matches between the sides with 11.
Prior to the Partition of India in 1947 India had played cricket, having first played as an international side in 1932. Following Partition, Pakistan was created and began playing as an independent nation, making their Test match debut in 1952 during a tour of India.
Three players played for Pakistan after appearing for India. They are:
After Partition, Gul Mohammad continued to play for India until 1955 and played against Pakistan in their first tour of India in 1951–52. Both Amir Elahi and Abdul Hafeez Kardar played for Pakistan on the tour. Abdul Hafeez Kardar went on to play for Pakistan against India during India's first tour of Pakistan in 1954–55.
Cricket is a significant sport within both countries and matches involving them can provoke what has been described as "a strong response".
In the Indian cricket team in Pakistan in the 1989–90 series, the 3rd ODI at Karachi was abandoned due to crowd disturbance. When Pakistan lost 3 wickets at the score of 28, stone pelting started against Indian fielders. Indian fielders gathered near the pitch. Local cricketer Javed Miandad was unable to calm the crowd and the match was abandoned. Chandu Borde said that in the same match, Mohammad Azharuddin was hit with a metal hook. Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in his book, in the first ODI, that Indian captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth's shirt was torn by a Pakistani spectator.
There have been examples where fans of the opposing side have experienced legal action: in 2014, 60 students in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh were charged with sedition for cheering Pakistan's victory over India, although the charges were later dropped; in 2016, a 22-year-old Pakistani fan of Indian captain Virat Kohli, was arrested and later sentenced to 10-years imprisonment for hoisting India's flag in Pakistan after a match between India and Australia. After the T20 World Cup 2021 match between the two teams, Indian authorities arrested a small number of Indian Muslims who had publicly celebrated Pakistan's victory.
In the city of Leicester in the United Kingdom, tensions between the Indian Hindu and Pakistan Muslim community broke out into violence and a series of protests following the 2022 Asia Cup match between Pakistan and India on 28 August.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and Soviet pressure on India to deflect the tension they faced, in February 1987 Pakistan's President at the time, General Zia ul-Haq, attended a test match between India and Pakistan in Jaipur – a visit that apparently helped cool a flare-up in tensions since it led to a meeting with the Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. Furthermore, in 2004 after a break of fifteen years, India toured Pakistan in the wake of diplomatic initiatives to bury half a century of mutual hostility. Both sides relaxed their tough visa regulations for each other, allowing thousands of fans to travel across the border.
In an attempt to replicate the cricket diplomacy of the past General Pervez Musharraf came to India in 2005 ostensibly for a cricket match. The trip, however, quickly took on the air of a summit as the sides were urged "to seize a historic chance to end their dispute over Kashmir." Often this rivalry has been tinged with a religious-political bent to it. In 1991, the workers of the Indian political party Shiv Sena dug up the cricket pitch at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on the eve of an India-Pakistan Test match which was to be held there, forcing the entire series between the two nations to be cancelled. The Shiv Sena once again used this unique means of protest at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi in 2000 to protest against the Pakistan cricket team's proposed visit. Following the Kargil conflict, and at various other times, there have also been calls to suspend cricketing ties between the two countries.
During the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the semi-final is believed to have eased the relationship between India and Pakistan after the polarising 2008 Mumbai attacks. Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh used this opportunity and greeted his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the match with him at Mohali. Gilani subsequently accepted the offer and agreed to watch the match with Singh.
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