Mohali, March 30: The air in the subcontinent is tense with anticipation as old arch foes India and Pakistan get set to slug it out for a place in final of the World Cup 2011. Both teams must be buoyant coming off convincing wins in their quarterfinal match-ups, Pakistan shooting out the West Indies by a humiliating 10 wickets and India overpowering defending World Champions Australia by 5.
But what do the history books say about these two sides in World Cups? India's victory rate is around 60%, with 37 wins and 26 losses while Pakistan is just a shade lower at 36 wins from 63 matches at a success rate of 57 per cent . These two teams are no strangers to each other on cricket's greatest stages, having met 4 times in World Cups.
But facing Pakistan, India are the proud bearers of a cent per cent victory rate, having won all their four matches against these opponents in the big tournament. Let's take a quick look at when and how those wins unfolded.
The first time India met Pakistan in a World Cup match was in the 1992 edition at Sydney. Batting first, India posted a nonthreatening total of 216/7 in 49 overs maximum, with useful innings from opener Ajay Jadeja (46), Mohammad Azharuddin (32), Sachin Tendulkar (54) and late flourish from Kapil Dev (35), while leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed took 3/59. In response, Pakistan was slow off the blocks, Aamer Sohail making 62 of 95 balls and Javed Mianded 40 off 110, as their side folded for 173, thus losing the match by 43 runs. The India pace trio of Kapil, Prabhakar and Srinath took 2 wickets a piece.
Then India knocked Pakistan out of the 1996 World Cup in the high-voltage quarterfinal played at Bangalore. Batting first again, India posted a formidable 288, thanks largely to a sheet anchor's 93 from Navjot Singh Sidhu and a swashbuckling 45 off 25 balls from Ajay Jadeja. In response, the Pakistanis got off to a blistering start with the openers Saeed Anwar (46) and Aamer Sohail (55) notching up 88 runs in the first 10 overs. But then the intervention of Venkatesh Prasad (3/45) and Anil Kumble (3/48) put the breaks on the scoring and triggered a protracted collapse as Pakistan ended up 39 runs short of India's total.
The third time these two sides crossed paths in a World Cup was in 1999 at Manchester. Yet again, India batted first with decent contributions from Sachin Tendulkar (45), Rahul Dravid (61) and Mohammad Azharuddin (59) taking the side to the somewhat modest total of 227/6 in 50 overs, while Pakistani speedsters Wasim Akram and Azhar Mahmood picked up 2 wickets each. Then a career-best of 5/27 from Venkatesh Prasad shot them out for 180 with the only noteworthy innings coming from Saeed Anwar (36), Inzamam-ul-Haq (41) and Moin Khan (34).
Finally, in 2003 at Centurion, Pakistan batted first, posting a challenging total of 273 with Saeed Anwar holding the innings together with 101 and as many as 4 cameos coming from the rest of the order, while speedsters Ashish Nehra and Zaher Khan took two wickets each. Then India's Little Master launched an onslaught of a reply, racing to 98 off 75 before Shoaib Akhtar prevented him from reaching a century, before useful follow-up knocks from Mohammad Kaif (35), Rahul Dravid (44) and Yuvraj Singh (50*) took India home by 6 wickets with 26 balls to spare.
India are raring to go to make their World Cup record against Pakistan 5-zip when the two sides meet at Mohali on Wednesday. Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has stuck it to India that Tendulkar will not be allowed to make his 100th international ton in that match. Fans will hoping Tiny Ten will prove him wrong...