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India vs Pakistan in the Champions Trophy

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India_Pakistan_CricketThe excitement of an India-Pakistan match never dies. The mouth-watering clash between the Asian giants has always been one to watch out for and when it comes to an ICC event, the excitement levels is insanely high. The entire fraternity comes to a standstill to watch the extravaganza it provides.

The electrifying atmosphere has brought out the best performances: Miandad's last-ball six to seal victory in the Austral-Asia cup; Sachin Tendulkar's blitzkrieg in the 2003 World Cup at Centurion; Afridi's 45-ball match-winning century; and Gambhir's 75 in the finals of the 2007 T20 World Cup.

"At the end of the day, in any Indo-Pak match it is all about keeping your nerves and coping with the expectations of millions of people following the match all over the world," said the recently retired legend, Younis Khan.

We all know India has fared well when it comes to World Cup matches, winning on every occasion. Let's take a look at what has happened between the two sides in the previous Champions Trophy editions:

2004, Birmingham

It was a do-or-die match for both the sides. A win would take either side to the semi-finals and both the teams desperately wanted that. Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss and asked India to bat first.

India started on the back foot, losing Ganguly and Laxman within the first four overs, before losing Sehwag in the tenth over. The need of the hour was to build a partnership; Mohammed Kaif and Rahul Dravid stepped up. They steadied India's ship with a 45-run partnership from 60 deliveries. The duo didn't go after Pakistan’s bowlers, hitting boundaries off loose deliveries. But to India's dismay, Kaif and Yuvraj Singh were sent back to the hut within a space of four deliveries as India were tottering at 73 for 5.

With 30 overs to go, Agarkar and Dravid batted sensibly. The latter showed great perseverance and was unfazed by a couple of vociferous appeals from Malik and Akhtar as he went on to score a half-century. There were a few confrontations between 'The Wall' and 'The Rawalpindi Express' - when an unstoppable force met an immovable object. The Mumbaikar also played fabulously for his 47. The duo added 82 runs for the seventh wicket, but the top order collapse was too much to handle as India settled with a score of 200. Rana Naved and Shoaib Akhtar picked up 4 wickets apiece.

Irfan Pathan made sure that Pakistan's chase wasn't a cakewalk.

The all-rounder dismantled Pakistan's top order, sending back three batsmen within the first 11 overs. Just when India needed another breakthrough, skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq joined forces with Mohammed Yousuf. They stitched a 75-run partnership to save Pakistan from the blues. India was right back in the contest when Inzamam-ul-Haq walked back the pavilion.

Pakistan stuttered a little, but a Shahid Afridi cameo saved them. The swashbuckling all-rounder smacked 25 runs off just 12 balls to take the match away from India's grasp. Yousuf's scintillating knock didn't help India's cause either as the right-hander steered his side to a memorable victory. Pakistan went on to lose the semi-finals, but this victory will be etched as a special one.

2009, Centurion

It was India's first match in the 2009 edition of the Champions Trophy. A high-voltage match was on the cards. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat. They got off to a flier, thanks to a few eye-catching boundaries off the bat of Imran Nazir and Kamran Akmal. But Pakistan's joy was shortlived, as Ashish Nehra sent both the batsmen back to the hut.

Younis Khan struck a couple of boundaries and looked dangerous, but RP Singh's change in angle took care of him. At 65 for 3, Pakistan needed a big partnership and boy, did they get one. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf (again!), joined hands together in reviving Pakistan's hopes. While Yousuf showed no signs of discomfort, his partner found it difficult.

The arrival of Harbhajan Singh bolstered Malik’s confidence and he took on the off-spinner, hitting him for four fours. RP Singh and Ishant Sharma also suffered as Malik started to feast on the Indian bowlers. Yousuf played second fiddle, calmly rotating the strike and finding the odd boundary.

Malik soon raced to his century with a boundary. He and Yousuf put on a massive 206-run stand for the fourth wicket. Pakistan finished with 302 runs on the board. Barring Ashish Nehra, none of the Indian bowlers learned from their mistakes.

India needed a brisk start but unfortunately, Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed early, a huge blow for India. Gambhir and Dravid put on a solid 67-run stand for the second wicket before the southpaw was dismissed. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni were dismissed in quick succession and another Champions Trophy defeat against Pakistan loomed over India.

Suresh Raina and Dravid combined forces to give India a ray of hope. The left-hander, known for his attacking style of play, did what he does best, smashing five fours and a couple of sixes en route to his 46. Unfortunately, he got out at a crucial juncture, which turned the match in Pakistan's favour.

It was all over when Harbhajan Singh, who had a horrid day, ran out Rahul Dravid, searching for a non-existent third run. Dravid's fighting 76 was brought to an end and so were India's hopes as India folded for 248 runs in the 45th over. Pakistan and Australia qualified from the group stage to the semi-finals and the latter went on to win the 2009 edition of the Champions Trophy.

2013, Birmingham

It was the last match of Group B. Pakistan had suffered defeats against South Africa and West Indies and had been knocked out. India needed a victory to qualify for the semi-finals. The match was rain-curtailed to 40 overs. MS Dhoni won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first.

A swing masterclass from Bhuvneshwar Kumar left Pakistan floundering. He dismissed Jamshed in his second over before sending down some rippers. He eventually accounted for Hafeez, who played brilliantly for his 27, in the 13th over. Barring Shafiq, who scored 41, all the Pakistan batsmen got off to good starts but failed to score beyond 25 runs. Few had a rush of blood, whilst the others were unable to pick the trajectory of the ball.

Credit must be given to MS Dhoni for his tactics. He rotated the bowlers which left the batsmen uncomfortable and Pakistan reeling as they couldn't forge a big partnership to snatch the match away from India's grasp. Umar Amin played a worthy cameo but his knock wasn't sufficient as Pakistan were bundled out for 165, just before the penultimate delivery of the innings. Ishant, Bhuvneshwar and the spin twins of Jadeja and Ashwin picked a brace each.

With rain playing spoilsport again, India's target was reduced to 102 off 22 overs. A tricky chase was started off by uncharacteristic innings from Rohit Sharma whose flamboyance was reduced. Though India didn't need a quick start, Sharma showed a great deal of discomfort. The opening duo of Sharma and Dhawan added 58 runs before the former was dismissed, thanks to a beauty from Ajmal.

Dhawan was the total opposite of his partner, smacking boundaries off loose deliveries. He quickly raced to 48 but failed to finish off the match. Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik then did the honours as India sealed a victory which earned them a place in the semi-finals before going on to win the tournament that year.

With a lot at stake this year, India and Pakistan will lock horns on the 4th of June. Both the teams would be hoping to kickstart their campaign with a victory. A triumph over arch-rivals in the initial stages can really boost morale. Will it be 3-1 in favour of Pakistan or two apiece?

 

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