Wednesday 23 July 2014 

Rewind...To A Classic India-Pakistan Clash From 2004

Pakistan v India, 2004
The 2004 series was a classic India-Pakistan clash, which India would eventually win 3-2
© REUTERS / Action Images
 
Jibran Khan Niazi
Off-spinner Jibran Khan Niazi has played first-class and one-day cricket for Sargodha, also playing for Pakistan University Grants Commission and Faisalabad.
© Jibran Khan Niazi
 

Following the recent news that India and Pakistan are set to resume bilateral series against each other from 2015, Jibran Khan Niazi casts his mind back to a classic encounter played in 2004.

A cricket match between Pakistan and India is always a source of thrill and excitement and both teams use all their energy and skills to win the match and in case of a close contest it often stuns the public of both countries.

A memorable sixer by Javed Miandad from the last ball in Sharjah against India and two consecutive  sixes in the last over by Shahid Afridi in the Asia Cup earlier this year not only excited the Pakistanis but was enjoyed all over globe by the cricket lovers.

No doubt Pakistan is strong in batting and bowling andn usually have the edge over India in bowling but have often faced defeat against India due to poor fielding.

Pakistan is facing a problem of finding an opening pair as well as improving their fielding. Though Pakistan had overcome this problem but involvement of one opener in spot-fixing and the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 inflicted crushing blows to cricket in Pakistan and Pakistan was stripped of its co-host status for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

Yet despite all such odds and constraints Pakistan cricket has survived and retained their place among the world's elite.

First, a history lesson

The history of cricket in Pakistan begins with the award of Test match status on 28th July 1952 after its freedom from British rule in August 1947. (Prior to independence Pakistan was part of India and in August 1947 both India and Pakistan were given status of independent sovereign states).

Pakistan and India have similar cultures but the majority in Pakistan are Muslim and in India the majority are Hindu. A war was declared by India on Pakistan on 6th September 1965 and tension developed between both countries although the citizens of both countries are friendly with each other but matches between the two sides are always hotly contested affairs.

In 1971 war between both countries again pitched not only armed forces against each other rather India inflicted a crushing blow against Pakistan when it helped people of Bangladesh gain independence from Pakistan (previously it was East Pakistan, an integral part of Pakistan and it is worth mentioning here that the independence movement against British rule and formation of an independent country for Muslims of subcontinent India started from Bangladesh)

Despite all of these political and traditional rivalries between both countries the cricketers and players of other teams like hockey, Kabbadi etc continue to play sport in the right spirit.

My most memorable India-Pakistan match

I still remember the fourth One-Day International played between Pakistan and India at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 21st March 2004.

It was my first chance to see the top players of both traditional rival countries live. The prominent players among the Pakistani team were Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousaf Youhana (now Mohammad Yousuf) , Shahid Afridi, Younus Khan, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik while Shoaib Akhtar, commonly known as the Rawalpindi Express, Shahbir Ahmad and Mohammad Sami were the fast bowlers. 

Prominent batsmen on India's side were Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxmen, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh and their bowlers included Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat and it was commonly presumed that winning of toss in the one-day match played a huge main role in determining who would win the match.

Therefore, it stunned the entire stadium when India won the match by five wickets.

India 294-5 (Dravid 76no, Mohammad Kaif 71no)
beat
Pakistan 293-9 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 123) by five wickets
Fourth One-Day International, Lahore

Series levelled at 2-2 - India would go on to win the series 3-2

The Pakistan side was considered a balanced side with classic batsmen like Inzamam, Afridi, Younus and Youhana, Moin Khan as keeper and star bowlers like Shoaib and Sami.

The Pakistan side elected to bat and Afridi was first to go in third over when he was caught by Yuvraj off Pathan for just three.

Next was to go was star batsman Youhana, in the ninth over for just nine, leg before to Pathan.

Though spectators in Lahore are always considered generous in supporting good play irrespective of who is playing, this time we the spectators were shocked as we wanted to watch Inzamam and Afridi, however Inzamam, who was in form, played strokes on all side of the grounds and reached 50 in 63 balls, supported by opener Yasir Hameed, who also made 50.

Younus joined Inzamam and kept the other end safe and allowed Inzamam to play big shots but he lost his wicket at 36 in the 39th over when he gave an easy catch to Pathan

I was impressed by the bowling of Murali Kartik and Pathan, using their talent to get the most out of a supportive wicket.

Inzamam was the last ray of hope for Pakistan and India's bowlers looked helpless against him, and he eventually hit 123, hitting nine fours and four sixes but was clean bowled by Balaji.

Pakistan went on to score 293 runs in 50 overs.

Now the batting of India started in the evening and Sehwag gave a good start to India by scoring 26 with five fours though Pakistan, relying on Shoaib, got the precious wicket of Tendulkar who was caught behind by Moin.

It will be not out of place to mention here that Tendulkar seemed to struggle while playing against Shoaib, who had an edge over India due to his speed and out swing.

His next victim was Laxman who was clean bowled for 20. The next wicket was of Sehwag, captured by Sami in the 10th over.

Gangulay was next to go when he was caught behind off the bowling of Abdul Razzaq. This was, to us, the climax of the game and spectators were jubilant anticipating a home victory but Dravid and Yuvraj added valuable runs.

The final wicket of Yuvraj was taken by Sami but he added 36 runs with five fours and Dravid remained unbeaten on 76 with nine fours.

Shoaib took two valuable wickets of India but conceded 63 runs in nine overs and Shabbir was mercilessly beaten by the Indian batsmen and he gave away 62 runs in seven overs.

The bowling of Sami was economical, conceding 50 runs in 10 overs capturing two wickets. Malik and Afridi failed to impress with their bowling.

The other thing which was very interesting for me was the batting of Inzamam, Younus and Youhana. I always ejoyed watching classical stylish batting of Yousuf and Younus and the inspiring and effortless shots of Inzamam.

The crowd was dejected with the situation as our team faced defeat on its home ground against their traditional rival but defeat was accepted with good grace even though the crowd left the ground with a heavy heart .

Being a young cricketer, I also learnt much from the batting and bowling of both sides but was upset to have seen some mistakes of field placing and irresponsible fast bowling.

India, I must concede, despite being under pressure, played a well-knitted game and I realised that India was playing with a specific strategy, which our side clearly lacked.

This was the main factor in the defeat of Pakistan but I must acknowledge how well India's batsmen played.

I judged that Pakistan side was enriched with talented batsmen and bowlers and similarly Indian batsmen were superb and the bowlers were also good but were not of the same calibre of the Pakistanis.

The question arose in my mind as a young cricketer that Pakistan batsmen threw their wickets away and bowlers also did not bother to bowl according to field placing and the other  cause of defeat of Pakistani team was poor fielding.

Meanwhie, India applied themselves better in all areas and won the match.

I was a fan of Afridi and wanted to see him hitting the ball out of the ground but he returned to the pavilion scoring just three runs and he could not bowl as well then as he does now.

The one day match was inspiring for me as I witnessed  both teams in the ground and I got the chance to talk to, and receive guidance from Afridi and Tendulkar.

I must praise Afridi, Younus and Youhana, who showed no reluctance when passing on tips to youngsters.

© Cricket World 2014