India skipper Virat Kohli refused to fuel the hype of the upcoming India vs Pakistan Champions Trophy opener. And you can understand his approach to play down the fixture. After all, there's always a lot at stake in a cricket match between the neighbouring countries. But fans are not going to practice restrain as they have nothing but the blockbuster clash on their mind.
One of the most intense sports rivalries, an Indo-Pak match is not just about cricket, it becomes a matter of pride for fans from both sides of the border and a loss against their arch-rivals is simply unacceptable. The countries come to a standstill, stadiums are filled with rapturous applause and uncontrolled emotions are drawn.
We look back at 10 unforgettable India vs Pakistan matches as we get ready for the fiercest sporting rivalry to resume.
1. Rothmans Four-Nations Cup, 1985 - India won by 38 runs
Sharjah has been a happy hunting ground for Pakistan. India have lost 20 out of 26 times to their arch-rivals here but in 1986 India overcame Imran Khan to register a famous victory. Imran wreaked havoc with his pace and swing as India managed a paltry 125 on a green strip but the Indian bowlers were up to task as they returned the favour with another deadly spell to bowl out Pakistan for 85. Ravi Shastri was the star, finishing with 5/17 in 10 overs.
2. AustralAsia Cup, 1986 - Pakistan won by one wicket
The mother of all nail-biting finishes. Chasing 246, Pakistan were struggling at 215/7 after which Javed Miandad steadied the ship. And with four runs required off the last ball, the Pakistani maverick slammed Chetan Sharma for a six to win the cup. It took a long time for the Indian team to overcome the unexpected defeat.
3. World Cup, 1996 - India won by 39 runs.
The match famous for the spat between Venkatesh Prasad and Aamer Sohail. In the quarterfinal clash in Bangalore, India put up a target of 288. Openers Saeed Anwar and Sohail gave a brisk start to their team. After hitting Prasad for a boundary, the opener sneered at the bowler by signalling him to go fetch the ball only to be clean bowled on the next ball. India also knocked out the defending champions.
4. India-Pakistan Test Series, 1999 - Pakistan won by 12 runs
A match to remember for Sachin Tendulkar's gutsy 136 in the fourth innings. Pakistan set India a challenging target of 271 to which India made a messy start as they lost five wickets for just 82 runs. Tendulkar, who struggled through back spasms, took India within touching distance before falling to Saqlain Mushtaq. His wicket triggered a collapse allowing Pakistan to take the first Test by 12 runs.
5. India-Pakistan Test Series, 1999 - India won by 212 runs
Having lost the first Test in Chennai, it was imperative for India to bounce back. Legendary spinner Anil Kumble produced one of the best spells in Test cricket as he picked all ten wickets in the second inning to restrict Pakistan to 207. Kumble also became only the second bowler after Jim Laker to do so.
6. World Cup, 1999 - India won by 47 runs
Former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharrudin starred with the bat as India registered a vital win against Pakistan in the Super Sixes round of the 1999 World Cup. Azhar's 59 helped India reach 227 before they bundled out Pakistan for 180 to clinch the match - with Venkatesh Prasad taking 5 wickets. The match is even more memorable for the fact that it came in the backdrop of the Kargil war.
7. World Cup, 2003 - India won by six wickets
The league match will forever be remembered for one of Sachin's best ODI knocks. The blistering 98 made a mockery of Pakistan's bowling attack which comprised of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. India easily chased down 274 to dish out yet another defeat to their arch-rivals in a World Cup match.
8. World T20, 2007 - India won the bowl-out
When it comes to thrilling finishes, it can't get better than India's bowl-out victory against Pakistan in 2007 World T20 group match. With both teams failing to win the match, the teams were invited for a bowl-out. While Pakistan picked specialist bowlers, MS Dhoni went for Virender Sehwag and Robin Uthappa along with Harbhajan Singh. India's bowlers were right on the money as they hit the mark thrice in the over while Pakistani bowlers failed to hit the stumps even once.
9. World T20, 2007 - India won by five runs
Indo-Pak matches have a habit of going down to the wire and the final of 2007 World T20 was no different. Chasing 158, Pakistan needed 13 runs off the last over. That's when Dhoni picked the unknown man Joginder Sharma to bowl the final over and the rest is history. The unfortunate scoop by Misbah-ul-Haq went straight into the hands of S Sreesanth at short fine leg as India clinched the first T20 World Cup.
10. World Cup, 2011 - India won by 29 runs
The 2011 World Cup win was Tendulkar's dream come true but for that to become a reality, India had to thwart Pakistan's challenge in the semifinal. The Master Blaster lead from the front with a crucial 85 as India put up 260 on the board. Pakistan had a good start to their innings but Indian bowlers bounced back soon as all five bowlers picked up two wickets each to beat their bitter rivals by 29 runs and reach the final.
Feature Image: AFP/PTI