India-Pakistan: It's 2-2 in Champions Trophy

In contrast with its record against Pakistan in the World Cups, India is tied 2-2 in the ICC Champions Trophy against its arch-rival.

Ravindra Jadeja (centre) chipped in with two wickets, a catch and a run-out against Pakistan in the ongoing Champions Trophy.   -  AP

In contrast with its record against Pakistan in the World Cups, India is tied 2-2 in the ICC Champions Trophy against its arch-rival.

A solid top-order batting effort was backed by a disciplined bowling performance as India cruised to a big win over its bitter rival in the ongoing Champions Trophy, on June 4.

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

 

There was a minute's silence before proceedings began at Edgbaston. There was not a second of it thereafter. A record crowd provided an electric soundtrack on a frustrating, wet day as India's batsmen pounded Pakistan into the ground in their Group B encounter.

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This may be an old, storied rivalry but in recent years these games have been anything but competitive. It was more of the same as India cruised to a 124-run victory (D/L Method), cheered on by a majority of the 24,156 people – the highest attendance for a One-Day International (ODI) at this venue – packed into the ground.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.