India-Pakistan rivalry in Champions Trophy

In contrast with its record against Pakistan in the World Cups, India has suffered more defeats (2) than victories (1) in the ICC Champions Trophy against its arch-rival.

Ravindra Jadeja — One of the many heroes of ICC Champions Trophy 2013.   -  AFP

In contrast with its record against Pakistan in the World Cups, India has suffered more defeats (2) than victories (1) in the ICC Champions Trophy against its arch-rival. This is congruent with its overall head-to-head record in the 50-over format — through the 1990s and much of the 2000s, Pakistan seemed to keep churning out heroes who have stepped up in these all-important matches. The result, despite a recent reversal in the trend, is a 51-72 win-loss record in favour of Pakistan.

Yousuf Youhana (known as Mohammad Yousuf now) was the common nemesis in both of Pakistan’s victories in the Champions Trophy — in 2004 and 2009.   -  Getty Images

 

Yousuf Youhana was the common nemesis in both of Pakistan’s victories in the Champions Trophy — in 2004 and 2009. In 2013, India got one back when spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin helped skittle out its opponent, this time captained by Misbah-ul-Haq, for 165, for an eight-wicket win. A few months earlier, Misbah’s team had defeated India 2-1 in a bilateral series between the sides — an anomaly for the times — in India. In Edgbaston, however, it came undone possibly against the better prepared side.

Dinesh Karthik reacts after India defeated Pakistan during its last encounter in the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston in 2013.   -  AP

 

It was sweet revenge for India at the venue of the first match ever played between the sides in the Champions Trophy. The three editions prior to 2004, perhaps due to its short and sharp schedule and the unequal form of the teams, could not accommodate the spectacle. Leading up to the fourth edition, India seemed to hold the upper hand, with a successful tour of Pakistan earlier that year and a famous victory during the World Cup in 2003.

Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf’s 206-run partnership for the fourth-wicket dented India’s luck in 2009 edition.   -  AFP

India’s batting failed to successfully negotiate expert fast bowling from Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Shoaib Akhtar, with only Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar providing some resistance to drag India to 200.

Irfan Pathan’s early burst reduced Pakistan to 27 for 3, but Youhana led the recovery, shepherding the tail expertly to calmly steer his team past the finish line in the final over. He finished with an unbeaten 81.

Pakistan’s batsmen laid the foundation for the team’s second victory over India in the Champions Trophy, in Centurion in 2009. Middle-order batsmen Shoaib Malik and Youhana shared a 206-run partnership for the fourth-wicket, as Pakistan reached 302 for 9 in its 50 overs. In reply, Gautam Gambhir and Dravid scored half-centuries, and Suresh Raina scored 46, but the spin duo of Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal disallowed any realistic shy at the target by making crucial breakthroughs in the middle order.

The narrative changed four years later, and as we look ahead to the impending contest — again at Edgbaston — India’s upper hand seems distinct and discernible, especially as Pakistan has a new and untested captain in Sarfraz Ahmed. However, as is the nature of contests between these sides and the unpredictability of the sport, a surprise may be in store.

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