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India and Pakistan have had a very intense rivalry throughout cricket’s history. Their rivalry isn’t just based on the game itself but is deeply rooted in the wars and political beliefs of each country.
Although many would argue that sports and politics shouldn’t be considered in the same breath, it’s hard to ignore it when war is on your doorstep.
Today we will discuss both the cricket-based rivalries and the country-based rivalries to see why the hostility is so palpable.
Tensions Between The Two Nations
The Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are neighbors. They have a complex and hostile relationship with each other, mostly rooted in their religious beliefs and their connection to the British Empire.
Although country leaders are often trying to mend these relationships, the repair work never lasts for long.
According to a 2017 BBC poll, 5% of Indians view Pakistan as a positive influence, while 85% view Pakistan as a negative influence. The remaining 10% were indifferent. On the Pakistani side, 11% saw Indians positively, 65 viewed them as a negative influence, and 27% saw them differently.
The countries are currently in a Cold Peace, which means that neither country is friendly towards the other, but no active war is in place.
How These Tensions Came To Cricket
Despite differing attitudes in most aspects of their life, language and cricket are common in both countries’ heritage.
Because both countries value cricket so highly, they are both considered top league teams. However, the countries rarely play against each other due to their political tensions. When the teams do play against each other, the cricket betting odds skyrocket as the competition is in high demand.
Each team is pressured into winning and can expect extreme reactions when defeated. Hooliganism, firings, public attacks, and more are expected when failures occur.
Their First Game
The first time the two teams played was in 1952 when Pakistan toured India. It was a Test match, brought on by Pakistan’s official welcoming into the Imperial Cricket Conference.
India won the first Test and lost the second. This loss causes an intense angry reaction from the Indian home crowd. The “fans” attacked the Indian players, physically and verbally.
India then won the third Test, but because of the horrible reaction, both teams started playing defensively rather than risk an attack. This creates a slow and drawn-out game ending in a draw.
The same issue happened in 1955 when no team was able to win a single Test match, as everyone was playing defensively. Tensions were still high, as players, fans, and managers started attacking umpires for a lack of fairness. This started to become commonplace.
These games weren’t fun for anyone, and soon the two teams refused to play against each other.
The 1947 Partition Of British India
During the 1947 Partition of British India, 1 million people died in a bloody conflict between Pakistan and India, while 10 million people fled in a mass migration to a new nation.
Because both countries considered Cricket a national sport, the rivalry in theory started here. Although they wouldn’t play against each other until 1952, foul threats and calls of dominance were known.
The 1965 Indo-Pakistani War
This war started in 1965 and ended in 1971. During that time, all cricket matches were put on hold. Games didn’t start up again until 1978.
This time India toured Pakistan.
During this time, politics were shifting – becoming more extreme. Several times, during the tour, matches were canceled due to terrorism threats.
In an attempt to fix relationships. Pakistani President Sia-ul-Haq came to watch an India vs Pakistan Test match.
This happened multiple times, to help promote unity through cricket. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi soon followed suit and watched the games with the people.
However, in 1984, this tradition stopped. The match was canceled mid-way through as the Indian Prime Minister was assassinated.
Truce In the 80s And 90s
During the 80s, the tensions between the two countries calmed down. The assassination came as a shock to both nations and allowed them to separate and grieve in their own way.
From a cricket point of view, the teams played against each other, but only in neutral venues, never in their home countries. This allowed larger audiences to attend and prevented attacks on losing teams.
Soon the series was known as the “Friendship Cup” due to the uncharacteristically warm reception the two teams gave each other.
The two teams played against each other a lot during these years.
The 1999 Kargil War
The Kargil War brought tensions between the teams again. Kargil is an area on the border between the two countries and so sparked a war on territory. Cricket was suspended once more until 2003, during peace talks.
The 2008 Mumbai Attacks
Tours started up again, until 2008 when terrorists attacked Mumbai, India. A Pakistani terrorist group claimed the attack, and so the Indian team refused to play in any games against Pakistan.
The 2009 Sri Lanka Attacks
The 2009 Sri Lanka attacks forced Pakistan to suspend all cricket tours to Pakistan, Pakistan was also removed from the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The wars between the two countries have quietened once more. Although tensions are still high, games have been played in 2012, 2019, and 2021. These were all on international stages.
Although the two teams aimed to play in 2014 and 2015, no agreement on safety could be secured.
Summary Of Games
So far the teams have played against each other 203 times. Pakistan is currently the rival leader, with 88 wins, India has 72 wins, while the teams have a high draw/no result count of 43.
Because games between India and Pakistan are rare, you can expect the latest sports betting odds to capitalize on any games they agree to.
The teams are hard to predict as they are both fantastic, and Pakistan’s lead is slim. If the tensions between the teams are high, your best bet is to consider a draw.