On Christmas Day, 2012, India will play Pakistan in a cricket match in Bangalore.
It is the first of a five match series, two Twenty20s and three ODIs, and their first series since 2008, though they have played each other five times since 2009 in various tournaments.
The two nations have played each other 183 times since 1952 in all formats and all competitions. India has won 59; Pakistan has won 81; there was one tie; there were 38 draws; and four no results.
Since the partition of India in 1947, India and Pakistan, both nuclear states, have been involved in four officially declared wars: 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999.
The casualty figures for those conflicts are spotty at best, with each side claiming different numbers, but the total military deaths are close to 20,000 – and that does not even take into account civilian killed and wounded, or the atrocities in Bangladesh, or the war spawned diseases and famines.
The first cricket match between the two countries took place in 1952 in Delhi. India won by an innings and 70 runs. India scored 372 in their first innings, Pakistan replied with only 150, was forced to follow on, but only scored 152.
Vinoo Mankad, infamous for other reasons, took 12 wickets: four in the first innings and eight in the second.
The conflict in 1947, also known as the First Kashmir war, began when Pakistan invaded the Kashmir region out of fear that it was going accede to India. The UN negotiated peace in 1948, splitting the Kashmir between the two nations.
At least three thousand soldiers were killed, and at least eight thousand were wounded.
Between 28 November 1952 and 13 February 1961, India and Pakistan played each other in 12 Test matches…every single one of them ended in a draw.
Due to the second and third aforementioned conflicts, after the draw in 1961, they would not play another cricket match until an ODI in October of 1978, a seventeen year gap.
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was once again a conflict over the Kashmir region. It lasted only six weeks, but both sides suffered thousands of casualties – over 6,800 total based on neutral estimates. According to Wikipedia, the largest tank battle since World War 2 took place during the five weeks of fighting.
The shooting stopped because of a UN mandated cease fire.
There were no permanent territorial changes.
The two nations have played each other in a World Cup five times: 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, and 2011.
India have won all five matches.
In 1971, India intervened in the Bangladesh Liberation Movement, inciting full scale hostilities between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan. It was by far the bloodiest of the three conflicts, even though it was the shortest: over 12,000 were killed in just two weeks of fighting.
India and Bangladesh won a massive victory, and East Pakistan became the Independent State of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s cricket team would be promoted to full Test status in November of 2000.
India and Pakistan have played 59 Test matches: India have won 9, Pakistan have won 12, and there have been 38 draws.
They have played 121 One Day Internationals: India have won 48, and Pakistan have won 69.
They have played three Twenty20s: India have won 2, Pakistan have won zero, and there was one tie.
In 1974, India went nuclear.
Sachin Tendulkar has, of course, scored the most runs over the 60 year history of the rivalry with 2,474.
Wasim Akram has taken the most wickets, with 60.
In 1998, Pakistan went nuclear.
53 of the 183 matches have been played in Pakistan. The first was in 1955, the last one was in 2008 – and that could very well be the last one ever, after the attacks in Mumbai in 2009.
In 1999, the fourth conflict, known as the Kargil War, took place. Pakistan moved troops into the Kashmir region, thinking it’s nuclear weapons would deter an escalation, the gamble proved wrong, and superior Indian forces forced Pakistan troops to retreat. Over 1,000 lives were lost, and the fighting, while sporadic, took place throughout May, June, and July of 1999.
India and Pakistan’s only match to take place during an armed conflict between the two nations was in June of 1999, during the World Cup, in Manchester, England. India’s innings featured fine 50s from Dravid and Azharuddin, setting a score of 227 for Pakistan to chase, but they fell short by 47 runs.
Venkatesh Prasad took five wickets for India.
Since 2000 the relations between the two nations have ebbed and flowed, but never have they been what anyone would call friendly. And the attacks in Mumbai in 2009 set relations back a decade. These upcoming matches are a big step, however. Even though at the end of the day they are just cricket games, they are far more important than that; they are baby steps towards peace between two of the largest nations on earth.
It is by far the most interesting, complicated, and intense sports rivalry on earth.
Hopefully, the matches will go off without a hitch this December and January.
I cannot believe I forgot to mention this in this post, because I have written about it before on several occasions: the national cricket stadium in Lahore, Pakistan is officially known as Gaddafi Stadium. Yes, that Gaddafi. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi – the former Libyan dictator.
It is named after him because in 1974 he gave a speech in Lahore in which he spoke in favor of Pakistan’s right to pursue nuclear weapons.
And, yes, India have played Pakistan in the Gaddafi stadium, the ground named after the man who said Pakistan should get nuclear weapons in order to defend themselves from the recently nuclear India.
It’s all so…complicated…and surreal…and for lack of a better term: foreign.
Anyway, they have played each other 13 times at the ground. India has won four, Pakistan has four, and the rest were draws.
An interesting footnote to the history of a fascinating rivalry.