On this day last year, India beat Pakistan by 76 runs to kick off a World Cup campaign that saw India remain unbeaten till the semi-finals (a fact that a certain English news channel chose to ignore, but more on them later.) In hindsight, this seems like one of India’s easier World Cup wins against Pakistan, mainly due to the margin of victory (the largest in India-Pakistan World Cup history). However, it’s important to place this win in context – India had endured a poor run of form in the tri-series prior to the World Cup, and there were concerns about an inexperienced Indian team’s ability to deal with the wickets in Australia. The nervousness was real, and that made this India-Pak clash particularly special. So let’s take a trip down memory lane.
The Promo: Everyone remembers the ‘Mauka’ promo. I loved it (disclosure: I worked on it at the time) primarily due to the fun, light-hearted approach it took to a very serious rivalry. There were no stars wishing India good luck, no angry scowling cricketers, and no cringe-worthy combat-metaphors. Just a story of two generations of Pakistani fans waiting for their team to finally beat India at the World Cup. It set the tone for the game.
Kohli’s hundred: Virat Kohli’s reputation for delivering when it counts the most is well-earned. He hadn’t been in great form leading up to the World Cup either, but the opportunity to perform in a high-pressure situation seemed to bring out the best in him. The hundred was relatively sedentary by Kohli’s standards, but provided the solid base that India needed.
Raina’s innings: Suresh Raina’s whirlwind 74 off 56 balls helped get India to 300, and probably won India the game. He seems to have been inexplicably dropped from the ODI squad, despite being one of India’s best finishers. A good Asia Cup and T20 World Cup should win him back his place.
Afridi’s dismissal: At 104/5, Pakistan’s only hope was a Misbah-Afridi partnership. Afridi started off encouragingly, hammering Jadeja for a six over mid-wicket, and taking plenty of singles to help build a partnership. It didn’t last too long though, with a top-edge finding its way to Kohli, who promptly celebrated Afridi-style, with his arms spread out.
Misbah’s innings: Spare a thought for poor Misbah-ul-Haq who battled on to score 76 runs. He continues to get criticized in Pakistan, even when he’s the only batsman scoring runs. It’s quite baffling, but not entirely unexpected – subcontinental cricket fans have always been led by perception, not facts. He continued to bat until the very end, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
So there you have it. A classic cricket match, relived one year later. The madness will continue on March 19th in Dharamshala, when India meets Pakistan in the T20 World Cup. Until then, I leave you with the Mauka Man.
— Star Sports (@StarSportsIndia) February 15, 2015
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