Over the years, I've seen quite a few Indo-Pak games in different parts of the world. Each one has given me a different perspective on the rivalry between these two proud cricketing nations
Indian team with the World Championship of Cricket trophy after defeating Pakistan in the final at Melbourne on March 10, 1985. India won the match by 8 wickets. Pic/Getty Images
We have further confirmation of the power of Asia in the cricket world as we await another India versus Pakistan final.
An India versus Pakistan final - the game that every fan in the two countries equally loves and dreads. Loves because it brings extra excitement to their lives and dreads because the thought of losing is too much to bear.
The classy former Indian opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar once told me: "India is busy trying to impress the West, while Pakistan wants to impress us."
Right now it's the cricket world that should be impressed by the performance of these two teams in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
India, a strong, well-balanced line-up was one of the favourites coming into the tournament. Pakistan on the other hand, squeaked into the tournament via a shaky number eight ranking and then promptly lost comprehensively to their greatest rivals. Since then however, they've been rejuvenated by the aggressive captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmed and the hustling, bustling seamer Hasan Ali and they are a worthy and dangerous finalist.
Over the years I've seen a few of these eagerly anticipated games in different parts of the world. Each one has given me a different perspective on the rivalry between these two proud cricketing nations.
There was their clash in the 1992 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). On this occasion India won the battle but Pakistan's Javed Miandad won the plaudits with his academy award impersonation of 'keeper Kiran More's appealing.
The first time I saw these two teams clash at a home venue was the 1996 World Cup quarter-final at Bangalore. India won convincingly but it was the aftermath that left the biggest impression.
MG Road in Bangalore is a six-lane affair, three each way, except on this occasion. I was in a hurry to file a column back at my hotel but our trip was reduced to a crawl, as there was only one lane of traffic heading away from the ground. Everyone in Bangalore wanted to be near Chinnaswamy stadium and eventually they decided a sixth lane heading in that direction would be appropriate.
When the situation reached an impasse the people just got out of their cars and conducted a huge street party right where they were. This taught me about the real passion of an India versus Pakistan clash. Later that year I worked on a five game ODI series between the two teams in Toronto, Canada. With the series tied at 2-all, I was speaking to Indian batsman Ajay Jadeja on the morning of the decider. "The rocks are all lined up at the border," he chuckled, "they just don't know which way to throw them."
I laughed but it was also with a tinge of sadness. Having seen how friendly the players of each team were during this visit it wasn't hard to assume that left to the cricketers, any rift between the two countries would be quickly solved.
My first episode of the Indian-Pakistani rivalry was in Australia at the MCG. The second of these contests was comfortably won by India when they defeated Pakistan in the 1985 final of the World Championship of cricket.
Batting first, the Pakistan innings was first stalled by the inspired swing bowling of Kapil Dev and then ripped asunder by the gifted leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.
In those days no Pakistan innings against India was dead and buried until Javed Miandad was back in the pavilion. Sivaramakrishnan delivered the blow that mattered in the most humiliating fashion to the skilful and proud Pakistani. He lured the fleet-footed Miandad out of his crease and then spun a sharp leg-break past his bat to leave him stranded for keeper Sadanand Viswanath to complete the ambush.
That left India with a target well within their range and led by the tall, upright all-rounder Ravi Shastri, they duly polished off the victory target without any drama.
Gavaskar had led the Indian side shrewdly capitalising on the good wicket-taking form of Sivaramakrishnan and the all-round ability of the highly competitive Shastri.
I was left with the pleasant duty of presenting man-of-the-series Shastri with the keys to a brand new Audi, which he later proudly took me in on a guided tour of Mumbai. However, on this night it was his Indian teammates that were his passengers, as they gleefully executed a lap of honour around the MCG.
Video: Team India abused on Champions Trophy 2017 Wikipedia page
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