Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- It~~s not all cricket when India plays Pakistan

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:If history is any guide, the faint-hearted are advised to avert their gaze when India and Pakistan battle on the cricket field from Saturday.

It's not without reason that these games are regarded as the ultimate rivalry in what was - note the past tense - called the gentleman's game.

An entire stadium was once cleared of fans due to riots, players have been assaulted on the field and defeats have resulted in security threats to the cricketers and their families.

The contests have also produced chilling edge-of-the-seat excitement and tight finishes, like Javed Miandad's last-ball winning six at Sharjah in 1986 and Pakistan's 12-run win before appreciative Indian fans at Chennai in 1999.

There is rarely a dull moment when India plays Pakistan - on and off the field.

Pakistani batting legend Hanif Mohammad suffered a cut on his right hand when he offered to shake hands with a persistent Indian fan through a train window during the 1960-61 tour.

Unknown to Hanif, the fan had hid a sharp object between his fingers so that the batsman could miss the next Test at Bombay. Hanif, known as little master for his batting prowess, not only played the match but hit a memorable 160.

Millions of Indian hearts sank when the current Pakistani coach Javed Miandad smashed Chetan Sharma's last delivery for a winning six in the Australasia Cup final at Sharjah in 1986. The nightmare still haunts the Indian paceman, who recently said he was fortunate the fans did not burn or stone houses in those days.

Pakistani cricketers felt the heat after losing their last three World Cup matches against India. Allegations of match-fixing and reports of the legendary Wasim Akram's home in Lahore being stoned soured three excellent games.

A Test match on Pakistan's last tour of India in 1999 had to be played before empty galleries at Kolkata's sprawling Eden Gardens after police forcibly removed some 90,000 spectators following rioting in the stands.

It was earlier on the same tour that a packed Chepauk ground in Chennai hid their disappointment at India's loss in a Test match to give the Pakistanis a standing ovation.

"It is moments like this that make a sportsman's day," said former fast bowler Wasim, who in recent days has been slammed by his countrymen for giving tips to India's teenaged paceman Irfan Pathan. "Cricket can achieve as much, if not more, as the politicians in bringing the two countries closer," he said.

The current Indian tour could work magic, but the stifling security around Sourav Ganguly's team is not without reason.

On India's previous Test tour of Pakistan in 1989, a spectator ran on to the field in the Karachi Test and lunged at the visiting captain Krish Srikkanth, tearing off the cricketer's shirt.

When Pakistan played in India in 1987, captain Imran Khan ordered his team to field in the outfield wearing helmets after stones and fruit peels were thrown at the players during the Ahmedabad Test.

Burly Pakistani batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq was once so incensed at an Indian fan in Toronto for calling him a potato that he leapt at him with bat in hand before security stepped in to cool tempers.

Inzamam has since lost weight and is now the captain of Pakistan. Both he and his Indian counterpart have stressed that any match between the arch-rivals is like any other game.

Now is their chance prove it.

Memorable matches:

March 22, 1985, Sharjah, UAE

The Rothmans Cup match on neutral territory in Sharjah ended in a sensational 38-run win for India. India successfully defended a paltry 125 as Pakistan stumbled for 87.

April 18, 1986, Sharjah, UAE

Needing four to win off the last ball, Javed Miandad hit a six over mid-wicket off Indian seamer Chetan Sharma to pull off a one-wicket win for Pakistan. Chasing the Indian target of 246, Miandad held the innings together to remain unbeaten on 116.

October 25, 1991, Sharjah, UAE

Pakistan's Aqib Javed claimed 7-37, including a hat-trick of leg-befores to remove Ravi Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar, to help his team win by 72 runs in the Champions Trophy. India, who were forced to bat in near darkness, did not play in Sharjah for two years in protest.

March 9, 1996, Bangalore, India

Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble took three wickets apiece to help India win the World Cup quarter-final by 39 runs. India made 287 for eight with Navjot Sidhu making 93 and Ajay Jadeja 45 off 25 balls. Pakistan stumbled after a rollicking start to finish on 248 for nine. Pakistani captain Wasim Akram, who pulled out of the match at the last moment due to a shoulder injury, received death threats after the loss and his Lahore home was stoned.

January 18, 1998, Dhaka, Bangladesh

India chased a then world record of 315 runs to win the best-of-three Independence Cup final. Centuries from Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed in Pakistan's innings were followed by Sourav Ganguly's 124 as India won in near darkness through a last-over boundary by Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

March 1, 2003, Centurion, South Africa

The last time India and Pakistan played each other turned out to be one of the best matches in World Cup history. A century by Saeed Anwar gave Pakistan a competitive total of 273-7 in 50 overs, but Sachin Tendulkar led India to victory by the 46th over with a scintillating 98 that included a six over point off Shoaib Akhtar. It is regarded as the most memorable shot of the World Cup.

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