India will get their Asia Cup campaign underway in Dubai on Sunday with the mother of all cricketing battles. As Rohit Sharma and his team look to win the Asia Cup for the eighth time and boost their confidence ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year, their first hurdle will come in the form of arch-rivals Pakistan. The neighbours will be squaring off for the first time since Pakistan’s dominant display against a dismal India in the opening round of the 2021 T20 World Cup last October.
As India look to redeem themselves and kickstart their Asia Cup journey on the right note, My Kolkata goes down memory lane to revisit the most iconic Indo-Pak moments on the T20 pitch.
Indians hold their line and their nerves in the bowl-out
Both Asian giants were in the same group in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007. After India’s first match against Scotland was washed out, the Men in Blue went up against Pakistan, producing an instant classic where both teams finished with 141 runs on the board. The match would go down in history as the only time a bowl-out was required to confirm the result of a World Cup game. Virender Sehwag got the Indians rolling as he knocked over the stumps in style, before Yasir Arafat failed to do the same for Pakistan. Evoking parallels of tense penalty shootouts in football, Harbhajan Singh made it two nil for India, with Umar Gul unable to open Pakistan’s account. Up next, Robin Uthappa, who has not bowled one full over in his entire international career, made it three nothing in India’s favour. Shahid Afridi’s subsequent miss sealed a unique victory for India.
In the air… Sreesanth takes it… India win
Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrates after India win the 2007 World T20BCCI
After an exhilarating run to the first World T20 final, India and Pakistan met for the right to be inaugural T20 world champions at Johannesburg. Riding on a solid 75 from Gautam Gambhir, India put up a target of 158 for Pakistan to chase. Pakistan endured a stop-start innings as they crawled their way to 99 for six after 15 overs. With Misbah-ul-Haq still at the crease, they somehow managed to bring the required tally down to 13 off 6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in his first final as Indian captain, put the weight of expectations of the entire country on the shoulders of a rather inexperienced Joginder Sharma by handing the medium pacer the final over. After a wide off the first ball, the required runs were down to 12 and Misbah was Pakistan’s last hope. With nine wickets down, the next ball was a dot, before the second legal delivery was dispatched for a maximum. With six needed off four and Misbah still on strike, Pakistan’s talisman scooped the ball and it went straight to Sreesanth at short fine-leg. As Sreesanth pocketed the catch, Ravi Shastri uttered his unforgettable lines in the commentary box: “In the air… Sreesanth takes it… India win, unbelievable scenes here at the Bull Ring.” India had overcome the odds to become champions of the world in cricket’s shortest format, something they are yet to repeat since.
Yuvraj sets Ahmedabad alight
Yuvraj Singh en route to a match-winning knock against Pakistan in 2012BCCI
Yuvraj Singh slammed 72 of 36 balls as India put on 192 for five in the second T20I between India and Pakistan in 2012. Smarting from a loss in Bengaluru, India bounced back in style, with Yuvraj’s four fours and seven sixes providing the fireworks for the evening. The southpaw supplemented his scintillating effort with the bat by taking the wicket of Ahmed Shezad in a game that saw India win by 11 runs. Yuvraj, deservedly, grabbed the man of the match trophy.
Mishra heaps misery on Pakistan
Amit Mishra proved to be the biggest thorn in Pakistan’s side in the 2014 T20 World CupBCCI
A rank turner in Mirpur was chosen to host India and Pakistan in the 2014 T20 World Cup and Amit Mishra emerged as the most valuable player. Mishra’s wily leg spin not only kept the Pakistani batters in check, but also delivered the crucial breakthroughs of Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik. He ended the evening with figures of two for 22 in four overs, including 10 dot balls. Pakistan’s score of 130 was toppled with consummate ease, with Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina getting unbeaten thirties to chase the target with an over and a half to spare.
Indians complete a tricky chase with Kohli playing anchor
Virat Kohli played a masterful innings of 49 to guide India’s chase against Pakistan in the 2016 Asia CupBCCI
Pakistan stumbled to 83, the lowest score in the history of Indo-Pak T20Is, the last time the two teams faced off in the shortest format in the Asia Cup. Held a month before the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, Pakistan’s batting got derailed, thanks largely due to the exploits of Hardik Pandya, who grabbed three wickets in no time, supported ably by Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja. Chasing a modest total of 84, India lost both Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane to the brilliance of Mohammad Amir, who proved almost unplayable. But Kohli weathered the Amir storm and polished off runs, eventually ending with 49. Dhoni secured yet another Indian triumph by smashing Wahab Riaz for a boundary.
Kohli leads the way at Eden Gardens
Kolkata was the venue for a pulsating India-Pakistan game in the 2016 T20 World Cup. After rain threatened to play spoilsport, Amitabh Bachchan set the mood for the evening as Eden roared to his rendition of India’s national anthem. Put into bat, Pakistan could not make much of their truncated 18 overs, finishing with 118 for five. India, though, were stung early, with Rohit Sharma being sent back in the third over. Out came Kohli, seizing the occasion once more, playing a superb innings of 55 not out off 37 balls. In a celebration for the ages, Kohli bowed down to Sachin Tendulkar in the stands as he reached his fifty, the result beyond doubt already. As the finishing touch, Dhoni put the gloss on a famous India win in classic Dhoni fashion.
The numbers game
Dhoni is the most successful captain in the history of India-Pakistan T20I matchesBCCI
My Kolkata picks some telling statistics related to India-Pakistan showdowns in T20Is.
- India and Pakistan have faced off nine times in T20Is, with Indian winning seven and Pakistan just two
- India and Pakistan have only played one bilateral T20I series, back in 2012, when Pakistan won in Bengaluru and India fought back to level the series in Ahmedabad
- Virat Kohli has scored the most runs in T20Is between India and Pakistan with a total of 311 in 7 matches
- Mohammad Rizwan holds the highest individual score for Pakistan versus India in a T20I, with his 79 not out at last year’s T20 World Cup
- Kohli holds the highest individual score for India versus Pakistan in a T20I, with an unbeaten 78 at the 2012 T20 World Cup
- Umar Gul has taken the most wickets when the two sides have faced off in T20Is, with 11 wickets in 6 games
- The best figures for an Indian bowler versus Pakistan in a T20I belong to Hardik Pandya, who took three wickets for just eight runs in the 2016 Asia Cup
- The best bowling figures for a Pakistani bowler versus India in a T20I belong to Mohammad Asif, who grabbed four wickets for 18 runs in the inaugural T20I fixture between the two countries in the group stages of the 2007 World T20
- With three fifties to his name, Kohli has the most 50+ scores for a batter in India-Pakistan T20Is
- No captain has won more games in India-Pakistan T20Is than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who played and captained eight such games, winning seven