by Asad Umar, Karachi, Sindh
Courtesy: The News, Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We all know that India is now arguably the best team in the world and Pakistan cricket is struggling to be competitive. We don’t even have to be experts in cricket to know that — every expert commentator on TV will tell us that. This was also the buzz in the crowds at Lord’s and the Oval during the early stages of the T20 world cup. They were all mostly saying that the favourites were Australia, South Africa and India – though not necessarily in that order. So I decided to be stupid about it and subject this apparently widely-held belief to a scrutiny of statistics. Head-to-head ODIs between India and Pakistan during the last five years: 24. Won by India: 12. Won by Pakistan: 12.
This made me sit up and wonder – I began scratching my head. Perhaps I was looking at too long a period? Maybe I should just look at the last two years. Matches played against India in the last two years: 10. Won by India: five. Won by Pakistan: five. Again I wondered what was going on – why India was considered a favourite by so many people. I thought that maybe it’s because of how it does in the big tournaments. The last two matches played between the two – the first was in the Asian Championship last year and the second in the Champions Trophy going on right now – both won by Pakistan! I thought maybe some Pakistani has injected a virus in the Cricinfo website and doctored their records? By the way just in case readers are wondering, during the last ten years the two countries have played 40 matches. India won 18 and Pakistan won 22. And as for their entire ODI history, out of 118 matches, India has won 45 and Pakistan 69. Seems like it will take a long, long time for India to catch up and make it an even contest over the long run – if ever!
Of course we all know that Pakistan is the number one T20 team in the world. The only team to reach the finals of both T20 world cups and only one of the two to win a T20 world championship. And all this in the last three years with Pakistan facing the worst isolation in international cricket faced by any country other then South Africa in the game’s history.
A parting stat — for the purists who correctly believe that test cricket is the real deal, Pakistan and India in the last five years have played nine matches. India has won two and Pakistan two. And as for their entire test-playing history, they have played 59 matches – India winning nine and Pakistan twelve. Now it makes sense – my view, that is, that the Pakistan cricket team is the most underappreciated institution in Pakistan. Enjoy the rest of the Champions Trophy and if we do lose remember the history that has been shared here – and be nice to this amazing bunch of youngsters that is the Pakistan cricket team.