The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is one of the most storied and intense clashes in the sport. Another chapter is set to be written on Saturday as both teams face off in the Asia Cup 2023. This encounter holds special significance as it marks the first ODI between the two sides since the 2019 World Cup, although they have crossed paths in T20Is during the Asia Cup and T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022. The rivalry over the past many years has been limited to continental and global tournaments due to political tensions, with no bilateral series between them since 2012-13.
However, there was a time when India and Pakistan regularly toured each other. Former Indian bowler Irfan Pathan reminisced about one such tour during a pre-match show on Star Sports on Saturday, as he recalled a controversial statement made by former Pakistan coach Javed Miandad ahead of the 2004 tour of Pakistan. Miandad had commented that bowlers like Irfan could be found on every street in Pakistan, sparking a furor among Indian fans.
As Irfan and fellow expert, former Pakistan captain and legendary pace bowler Waqar Younis recalled some of the storied controversies in the India-Pakistan rivalry, Irfan stated how the arch-rivals’ perception about him changed when he performed well in their own soil.
“The great Javed Miandad had said something about me. He said, ‘bowlers like Irfan are found in every street of Pakistan’. And how it actually panned out, and how it actually gave respect to me when I did well there… I feel that was pretty special,” said Pathan.
In the context of the rivalry between both sides, Pathan is best remembered for his exceptional hat-trick against the side during a Test in Karachi in 2006, where he dismissed Salman Butt, Younis Khan, and Mohammad Yousuf off successive deliveries.
Exciting clash on the cards
Pakistan is brimming with confidence as they step into the blockbuster encounter in Asia Cup 2023, backed by a commanding 238-run triumph over Nepal in the tournament’s curtain-raiser. India have meticulously geared up for the competition, engaging in a rigorous five-day training camp at Alur before arriving in Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
In recent years, under the stewardship of Babar Azam, Pakistan has exhibited exceptional performances in white-ball cricket, presenting a formidable challenge to India in the T20I format. It’s worth noting that Pakistan emerged victorious in two out of the four T20I encounters against India since their last ODI World Cup meeting in 2019.