World Cup 2011 March 28, 2011

India v Pakistan in World Cups: A historical pseudo-analysis

A look back at how India and Pakistan have fared in World Cups, and who has the better record going into the 2011 tournament

1975 One-day cricket was new, so new that Sunil Gavaskar played for a draw in the first ever World Cup match (he scored 36 not out off 174 balls). The South Asian giants didn't progress to the semi-finals, only managing wins against minnows Sri Lanka and East Africa. Pakistan's defeat from the jaws of victory against eventual winners West Indies was the high point for either nation. At that moment, one-day cricket and South Asia seemed ill-suited to each other. Pakistan had the better tournament but not by enough to gain a clear early advantage.

India 1 Pakistan 1

1979 India still hadn't got the hang of one-day cricket, managing to lose all three matches and finish bottom of their group thanks to a defeat to Sri Lanka, who were still considered minnows then. Pakistan fared better, reaching a semi-final against West Indies that they threatened to win until Viv Richards ripped out the middle order with three wickets.

Pakistan were sowing the seeds of a reputation for unpredictability but they achieved much more than India in this tournament.

India 1 Pakistan 2

1983 India's World Cup. Everybody expected West Indies to complete a hat-trick of victories and a loss to India in the group stages didn't especially dampen those expectations. Both India and Pakistan progressed to the semi-finals, India more convincingly on the back of some fine batting. Pakistan's stuttering World Cup ended with another semi-final exit at the hands of West Indies.

In the final at Lord's, India's score of 183 was five runs less than Pakistan had scored against West Indies in the semi-final. That's where the comparisons ended. India produced an incredible performance in the field. A towering, swirling hit from Viv Richards was held by Kapil Dev and forlorn hope became genuine ambition. India's medium pacers were all over the two-time champions, Mohinder Amarnath taking 3 for 12.

That's the moment the world changed. South Asia was now obsessed with one-day cricket and the World Cup. India had also outdone Pakistan.

India 2 Pakistan 2

1987 The first World Cup held in South Asia, indeed anywhere outside England. The tournament was engineered for an India-Pakistan final, with Pakistan favourites on paper. All went smoothly until the semi-finals when both home nations were undone by upstarts England and Australia.

Both nations were equally traumatised and wounded. At least, India had their World Cup win in the bag. Pakistan had nothing except a run of semi-final appearances to soothe them. Imran Khan declared that defeat had made him understand what the World Cup meant to the people of Pakistan.

India 3 Pakistan 3

1992 Pakistan's World Cup; the year of the cornered tiger. Coloured pyjamas and satellite television transformed the World Cup franchise when it reached Australia. None of the South Asian nations were expected to excel on bouncy pitches, but Pakistan squeezed into the semi-finals again. In the process, they were dismissed for 74 by England and lost their first ever World Cup encounter with India, made famous for a squabble between Javed Miandad and Kiran More.

Facing a near-impossible run chase in the semi-final against New Zealand, Inzamam-ul-Haq produced an iconic innings, allowing Wasim Akram to execute a thrilling final flourish against England. Pakistan had their World Cup win and Imran Khan had the keys to his cancer hospital.

Pakistan's reputation as the most dangerously unpredictable one-day nation was firmly established.

India 3 Pakistan 4

1996 A return to South Asia produced a South Asian winner, but it was neither big beast. Instead, former-minnows Sri Lanka refined the art of pinch-hitting and stormed their way to victory at Lahore's unfortunately named Gaddafi Stadium. The collapse of the podium at the winner's ceremony and some worrying moments with floodlights added an air of farce and incompetence to the tournament.

Earlier, India and Pakistan had fought an emotional quarter-final at Bangalore. India won thanks to a late assault by Ajay Jadeja against Waqar Younis. Briefly, Pakistan looked in the hunt, with Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar giving India's bowlers some tap and rowing with them too. But once Sohail lost his head, Pakistan's reply petered out. For the first time, India had directly eliminated Pakistan from a World Cup.

A few days later, it was India's turn to feel pain, as a failed run chase and crowd disturbance ended their World Cup with a semi-final defeat to Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens.

India 4 Pakistan 4

1999 The World Cup returned to England and Wasim Akram's Pakistan made it to the final. In the process, they lost again to India, as well as Bangladesh. India's poor form in the Super Six stage cost them a semi-final place, while Pakistan's equally poor form in the Super Six stage didn't matter because of their success in the group stage.

Pakistan had beaten Australia in the group stage, but Australia were peaking as they reached the final and Pakistan had left their best form behind them. Akram urged his players to relax, and perhaps they overdid it as Shane Warne led a humiliating rout, Pakistan dismissed for 133.

Pakistan had now reached two World Cup finals and three semi-finals without ever beating India.

India 4 Pakistan 5

2003 India rising, Pakistan collapsing. South Africa was a new venue for the World Cup and signalled a redefinition of the World Cup rivalry between India and Pakistan. Pakistan were in dreadful form, with too many players past their best. India, meanwhile, were experienced yet still hungry. Their batting order was beginning to look formidable.

When the two teams met in Centurion, Pakistan compiled a decent 273. Shoaib Akhtar had bowled the fastest recorded delivery earlier in the tournament. How would India's batsmen stand up to him, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis? To answer the question, Sachin Tendulkar cut Akhtar for six over backward point, and India's first hundred runs in their chase came off 73 balls. Pakistan were demolished and dumped out of the tournament.

India reached the final but Australia were red-hot. India were never in the game, a variation on Pakistan's defeat in 1999.

India 5 Pakistan 5

2007 The tournament that never happened. Two wins between them, and those over Bermuda and Zimbabwe, India and Pakistan may as well have not turned up. This was especially true of Pakistan, whose coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room, and had to help the police with their inquiries into his death. Painful memories for all supporters of India and Pakistan, which makes both teams' revivals in World Cup 2011 even sweeter.

India 5 Pakistan 5

2011 The tournament's best batsmen meet the tournament's best bowlers in a World Cup semi-final in Punjab. It is the first time that India and Pakistan have faced each other at this stage of the tournament, and this World Cup analysis is neatly poised. The winner on Wednesday will shift history in their country's favour.

Footnote: For the scoring system, I awarded 1 point to the country that performed the best in the tournament. When India and Pakistan progressed equally, I awarded 1 point each, except in 2007 when I didn't think either country deserved to score anything. The scores are a running total.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here