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Liking 73 but loving only 10

The biggest rivalry in World Cricket, the mother of all clashes, Indo-Pak rivalry in which a game is not just a game but its more than that. When it comes to test cricket, Ashes is the best, but in ODIs, an Indo-Pak encounter is the ultimate battle.

Just when the rivalry looked in danger, the whole world witnessed the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy Final between the two Asian giants and the result proved that this rivalry is full of surprises.

Picking the top victories of any team is not an easy task, so, you can imagine how difficult it is to pick the top 10 ODI victories by Pakistan vs India and then to rate those victories as well from 10-1. Over the years, Pakistan has won some really memorable ODIs against India and one thing we must not forget is that any Indo-Pak match is never short of excitement, no matter the strength of both teams, where the match is being played and even if its a dead rubber. Some things that I have taken into consideration while picking the matches are impact of the victory, scenario before the match, some close ones and even one sided ones as well but apart from all these things the main point is that these are all my personal favourites. The victories that I believe deserve to be in top 10. So, here are my picks as top 10 ODI victories by Pakistan against India.

No. 10 A thriller at GABBA in 2000.

A childhood memory for me. Pakistan vs India in the Australian Tri-Series in 2000. India batting first just made 195 with fifties from Ganguly & Robin Singh while Shoaib Akhtar picked up 3 wickets for Pakistan. Pakistan had to chase 196 in 49 overs and then started the typical Pakistani run chase. 36/1 soon became 71/6 and Indians were in the driving seat. Then a 49-run partnership between Yousuf and Wasim Akram. Wasim got out, Yousuf scored a superb half century but Srinath got rid of him for 63 and the score became 153/8, so,  Pakistan needed 43 from 37 balls. Saqlain & Waqar started scoring runs, a six from Saqlain while Waqar hit a four but there were many crucial singles in that partnership. 1 to win from 1 ball and India conceded a bye and Pakistan won. Because of the emotions attached with such close game as a 10-year old fan and for the heroic recovery by the tailenders, GABBA Brisbane 2000 is my pick at No. 10.

 

No. 9 Anwar butchers India at Chennai

A memorable match between Pakistan & India in the 1997 Independence Cup with the winner qualifying for the final and the Indians were clueless against Saeed Anwar. The stylish left hander registered highest individual score in an ODI innings as he scored 194. It was just amazing batting as Pakistan gave a target of 328 to Indians. Tendulkar got out early but then came the first ODI hundred by Rahul Dravid and with Kambli scoring a fifty as well, India sensed an opportunity at 195/2. But Aaqib Javed came back strongly to complete his five wickets and Pakistan won by 35 runs. Because of the importance of the match, a Pakistani batsman playing one of the greatest ODI knocks of all time, Chennai 1997 is at No. 9 in my list.

 

No. 8 Hat-trick of Austral Asia Cup titles for Pakistan

Sharjah hosted its third Austral-Asia Cup final in 1994 and before this match,  Pakistan had not lost a single match in AustralAsia Cup history, winning 10 out of 10. In the Semi finals, the two Asian giants defeated the Trans-Tasman rivals with Pakistan winning against New Zealand and India defeating Australia. Then, came the final. Aamir Sohail & Basit Ali scored half centuries as Pakistan ended up with a score of 250. Pakistani bowlers didn’t allow the Indian top order to score freely, Kambli scored a fifty, Bedade hit four sixes but Pakistan won by 39 runs to clinch third consecutive AustralAsia Cup title. Aamir Sohail completed an all-round performance as he picked up 2 wickets as well. This proved to be the last edition of AustralAsia Cup. Indo-Pak final in an electric atmosphere at Sharjah in a major ODI tournament, Pakistan successfully retaining the title, 1994 AustralAsia Cup final is at No. 8.

 

No. 7 Salman Butt starts his love affair with India

Pakistan vs India the Platinum Jubilee ODI in 2004 at Eden Gardens in front of 90,000 spectators. India batting first lost Tendulkar early but then Sehwag & Laxman formed a partnership, eventually both were dismissed by Afridi. Yuvraj played a stunning knock of 78 from 62 balls as India gave Pakistan a target of 293. A young Salman Butt scored a brilliant hundred under pressure, Shoaib Malik & Inzamam contributed with half centuries and Pakistan chased down the target with an over to spare. Indo-Pak landmark ODI at the most iconic Indian venue as BCCI felicitated the former players of both countries, and a youngster ruins the party for Indians, Kolkata 2004 at No. 7.

 

No. 6 When a dead rubber for India was a must win for Pakistan

1989 the year and India hosting the Six-Nation MRF World Series (Nehru Cup). After 14 matches, England, West indies & India were through to the semis. Australia & Pakistan both had won two games and then came the last must win game for Pakistan against India at the Eden Gardens. Pakistan batted first, Aamer Malik scored a fifty, Ramiz scored a brilliant 77 and Imran finished with 47 from 39 balls as Pakistan posted 279. Raman Lamba & Srikkanth started with an opening partnership of 120 but then Pakistani bowlers came back with vengeance as Indians were dismissed for 202, Mushtaq picked up 3 & Wasim took 2 wickets. So, the contest ended up as a one sided victory for Pakistan.

After this victory, there was no stopping Pakistan. Two stunning run chases in the semi final & final gave Pakistan the title of World Series (Nehru Cup).

But the must win game against India, bowlers making a one sided match after a strong opening partnership and the victory that paved the way for one of Pakistan’s greatest cricketing triumphs, Kolkata 1989 at No. 6 in my list of top 10 victories against India.

 

No. 5 The run chase at Ahmedabad

One of the greatest comebacks by a team in an ODI series. Pakistan trailing by 2-0 but then came back to win the series 4-2 in India in 2005. The real turning point of the series came in the 4th ODI at Ahmedabad. It was a 48-over game and it started with a magnificent hundred by Sachin Tendulkar. India posted 315 and there was not a single successful run chase by Pakistan of over 300 before this match in ODIs.

Then the run chase started and everyone contributed. Afridi started with 40 from 23 balls, Salman Butt scored 48, Razzaq scored 44 batting at No. 3, Shoaib Malik scored 65 and skipper Inzimam was there at the end to complete the job.

But the ending was full of drama. Ganguly gave the last over to Tendulkar to defend just 3 runs. Inzamam was facing and Tendulkar started with two dots, then a couple taken, again two dots, 1 to win from last ball and Inzamam struck a boundary through off side to complete a memorable win.

After this win, Pakistanis were just too good against India in the series.

First 300 + run chase in ODIs, series slipping away, and all the tension at the end, Ahmedabad 2005 at No. 5.

 

No. 4 Salim Malik stuns Indians in a run chase

1987 and the series in which Pakistan outclassed India by 5-1. But in the 2nd ODI at the Eden Gardens, India looked like winning the match very easily. In a 40-over match, Srikkanth scored a brilliant hundred for India and India finished at 238/6. Ramiz Raja & Younis Ahmed started with a partnership of 106 with both scoring half centuries. From 106/0 the score became 174/6. Salim Malik had come to the crease when Pakistan required 78 runs at more than 10 runs per over and then happened the unthinkable. Salim Malik destroyed the Indian bowling attack with a brutal assault of 72 from just 36 balls as Pakistan chased down the target with 3 balls to spare. Completing the kind of run chase which was considered as unimaginable in those days, batting with a strike rate of 200 in a run chase in that era against India in their own backyard, Kolkata 1987 ODI deserves to be at No. 4.

 

No. 3 The Edgbaston classic

ICC Champions Trophy 2004 and initially it looked like that people in England were not really interested in the tournament before this match. But then came the Indo-Pak clash in front of a carnival like atmosphere made by the fans of both the countries. Shoaib Akhtar & Rana Naveed took 4 wickets each as India posted just 200. At one stage, they were 106/6 but an 82 run partnership between Dravid & Agarkar gave Indian team some hope. Irfan Pathan started with 3 quick wickets and then 75-run partnership between Inzamam & Yousuf. Then, Indians came back and Pakistan lost 6th wicket at 152.

Afridi thrashed two sixes to Pathan and this proved to be the turning point. Yousuf finished the job brilliantly with an unbeaten 81 as Pakistan won by 3 wickets & it was the first win for Pakistan against India in an ICC tournament.

Because of all the twists in the match, the atmosphere on that day at Edgbaston, first victory against India in an ICC tournament, 2004 Champions Trophy fixture against India in Birmingham is at No. 3.

 

No. 2 A victory which is more than just a victory

Many people remember this game just for the last ball six by Miandad. But this game is special for many other reasons as well. First of all, it was first major ODI tournament won by Pakistan. Before this game, India was leading Pakistan by 8-7 in head to head ODIs and even at Sharjah it was 2-1 in India’s favour.

Pakistan vs India Austral Asia Cup final 1986 at Sharjah. Srikkanth, Gavaskar & Vengsarkar scored fifties as India raced to 216/1. Wasim & Imran pulled things back as India finished at 245/7.

The 2nd highest score for Pakistan in the run chase was 36 by Mohsin. But there was only one hero for Pakistan on that day. Miandad was unstoppable on that day as he played the innings of his life. Chetan Sharma bowled that famous last delivery and rest is history. Against India, in an electric atmosphere at Sharjah, Minadad scored a sensational hundred.

That six is one of the best moments in Pakistan cricket history. Without a doubt, that six still remains the most crucial six hit a Pakistani batsman and that match can easily fit into the top 10 thrilling ODIs in the history of ODI Cricket.

This victory against India just changed all the things. Pakistan made it 8-8 and then Pakistan never gave India the lead, dominance at Sharjah against India started after this match and Pakistan played some superb ODI Cricket against all the teams. For all these reasons, AustralAsia Cup final 1986 at No. 2 in my list

 

No. 1 Some victories just don’t need any caption

18th of June 2017 at The Oval in London. Final of the ICC Champions Trophy. Playing in an era in which India was dominating Pakistan in head to head. India the pre tournament favourites and Pakistan playing with a team full of talent but not full of superstars like the team of 80s & 90s. Defeat against India in the opening match and then the turnaround that saw Pakistan reaching the final. Before the final, everyone was talking about the margin of Indian victory in the final. Look, who was playing for Pakistan. Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, some senior members as well but overall against the likes of Yuvraj, MSD, Kohli, Rohit, Dhawan & the bowling attack which is claimed by Indians as their best ever. But then Pakistan achieved a victory which just stunned everyone. After that No-ball, Fakhar Zaman thrashed Indians with a brilliant century, Azhar Ali scored a fifty, Babar got some runs and then Hafeez and Imad added precious runs at the end.

On the big stage, Pakistani batsmen played bravely and finished with a score of 338. The run chase started and all eyes were on the Indian top 3. Mohammad Aamir criticised by many for not justifying his talent then bowled a sensational spell. Once, he got India’s top 3, the match was over.

The likes of Yuvraj & MSD succumbed under pressure and Pakistan achieved their greatest ever ODI victory against India. If I have to pick the best ODI victory by Pakistan after the 1992 WC final, no other match can give a close contest to the 2017 CT final. Apart from all the things, this victory is special because of some special reasons. This Pakistani team didn’t have the likes of Wasim, Waqar, Imran, Minadad and other great superstars, this Pakistani team is one of the weakest ever Pakistani teams to participate in an ICC tournament & this victory came against one of the best ever Indian teams.

Such a classical victory against the pre tournament favourites, against a much more experienced team, an ICC tournament final, winning the Champions Trophy against all odds, 2017 Champions Trophy final at The Oval deserves to be at No. 1.

 

 

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