Pakistan Breaks the World Cup Jinx

Some called it the ‘mother of all battles’ while others predicted that it would be a ‘walk in the park’ for the Indians, but not many favored Pakistan for their poor record in the previous World Cups. However, the inaugural match of the World T20 between Pakistan and India turned out to be a 'walk in the park' for the green shirts who ended the match with the biggest victory margin against their arch-rivals.

Not only did they reduce India’s mighty batting order to an achievable score, but they also didn’t let the Indian bowlers celebrate once in the match. Babar Azam excelled where no other Pakistani captain had excelled before in a World Cup, that is, in beating the Indian Cricket team.
A Short History of Pakistan-India World Cup Clashes
Before we talk about the ‘mother of all clashes’ that took place in Dubai on October 24, let's go back in time and discuss the matches that made this win so prominent. The two teams clashed seven times in the fifty-over Cricket World Cup and five times in the World T20, and before the Dubai clash, India had never lost to Pakistan.
The first time Pakistan and India clashed in the fifty-over World Cup was way back in 1992, a tournament that Pakistan won but without winning against India. In the 1996 Quarterfinal, and the 1999 Super Eight clash, India ended the match on a victorious note against a strong Pakistani side. The result didn’t go into Pakistan’s favor despite Saeed Anwar’s century in 2003 or Wahab Riaz’s five wickets eight years later. The last two times these two teams clashed in a World Cup were in 2015 and 2019 where India ended on the winning side on both occasions.
The closest Pakistan came to winning a match was during the inaugural World T20 where at the group stage, the match ended in a tie with Pakistan losing the encounter on a bowl out. In the remaining four matches including the first World T20 final, Pakistan was unable to clinch victory despite being on the right track for most of the match.
How Pakistan Outclassed India in an Emphatic Manner
Luck favors the brave and Pakistan proved to be on the braver side on the day when it mattered the most. They won the toss and elected to field, knowing that the pressure was always on the chasing side in a World Cup match. Yet, they took into account the dew factor and decided to use it to their advantage and were proved right. Not only did they send back the Indian openers in the first three overs, but they also didn't let any Indian batsman go past 40 except Virat Kohli.
Even the Indian captain struggled against the Pakistani bowlers and hit just a solitary six in his 49-ball 57. It was because of his courageous knock that India ended up with 151 runs for the loss of seven wickets, but as it turned out, the score was too less for Pakistan. Thanks to their pacers, Shaheen Shah Afridi (3 wickets), Hasan Ali (2 wickets) and Haris Rauf (1 wicket), who were aided in their quest by agile fielders, Pakistan required 152 runs to create history. They defied all odds and speculations to win the match. Not only did they manage to use the dew factor in their favor, but they hit boundaries to all parts of the ground, as if the opposition bowlers belonged to an associate side instead of India.
Both openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, were in supreme form and built the innings in a manner that made every Pakistani proud. Their opening stand reminded cricket fans of the Bangalore Quarterfinal in 1996 where Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar thrashed the Indian pacers mercilessly in the initial overs. Unlike that match 25 years back, Pakistani openers kept their cool and ended the match after registering half-centuries. Mohammad Rizwan managed to remain undefeated at 79 off 55 balls while Babar Azam’s 68 not out came off just 52 deliveries.
They chased the total in the 18th over and ended the match with 13 balls remaining and 10 wickets to spare which is nothing short of a miracle. Pakistan had not won a T20 before this match with a 10-wicket margin, and India had not lost a T20 match by the same margin. Pakistan broke the jinx of not defeating India in a World Cup in style and this memorable match will remain etched in the memories of both countries for a long time, for fairly different reasons.
What Helped the Green Shirts Break the Jinx?
A lot of effort went behind Pakistan's historic victory against India and one must acknowledge the fact that under Head Coach Saqlain Mushtaq, the team played like a fighting unit that feared nothing, not even losing the match. After all, a good coach with international experience always benefits a team that has players who want to listen and learn. Similarly, one must not forget the contribution of Vernon Philander as bowling consultant and Matthew Hayden as a batting consultant for the green shirts, for they instilled the aggression that was missing in Pakistan's arsenal. Haris Rauf appeared to be a different kind of a bowler under the former South African pacer and impressed all with his variety and line and length in both the matches. Shadab Khan kept his bowling in check and showed a glimpse of his older self, and if all bowlers listen to the consultant, there is no reason why Pakistan cannot reach the finals.
Rising Hatred against Muslims in India
Following Pakistan’s emphatic victory, a large number of Indians took to social media platforms to abuse and vent out their anger on Mohammed Shami, a Muslim member of India’s cricket team. The upsurge of Hindu extremism was also witnessed when some Kashmiri students celebrating Pakistan’s win were suspended by their college and later arrested by police in Uttar Pradesh as they were charged with “promoting enmity and cyber terrorism.”
New Zealand and Afghanistan Also Fell to Pakistan’s Wrath in the World Cup
Winning the match against India gave Pakistan the rare opportunity to begin the World Cup on a high, and that’s why they were able to win their second match against New Zealand as well. The fact that New Zealand left Pakistan in a hurry, hours before they were scheduled to kick-start their ODI series in Rawalpindi last month weighed a lot on the minds of the players from both sides. The green shirts went all out against New Zealand and came out as victors by 5 wickets.
After winning two matches out of two in the World Cup, Pakistan faced neighboring Afghanistan in its third match within a week, compared to India who played their two matches on two weekends. The fact that the Afghan players had more experience of UAE’s conditions than the current Pakistani boys backfired for they couldn’t cross the victory line despite trying hard. Yes, they did get the in-form Pakistan batsmen out but didn’t count on the Asif Ali factor, which saw their bowler Karim Janat go for 24 runs in the penultimate over.
Those four sixes by Pakistan’s master blaster demoralized not just the opponents, but also the Indian side that was no doubt observing the match, hoping Afghanistan would upset the Men in Green. However, the Men in Blue lost their second match of the tournament soon after, against a more organized New Zealand side. No Indian batsmen managed to cross the 30-run landmark throughout the innings and their bowlers also failed miserably while defending a low target of 111 runs. Only Jasprit Bumrah was able to dismiss two Kiwi batsmen as Kane Williamson’s men defeated them with 8 wickets while there were more than five overs to spare.

The writer is a freelance journalist.
E-mail: [email protected]

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