If someone asks you which is the biggest rivalry in cricket between the two nations? Is it The Ashes rivalry between Australia and England? South Africa and Australia rivalry? Or India and Pakistan rivalry? It seems to be tricky to answer as each rivalry has its own importance. However, there is one major difference among these rivalries and that is 'Emotion'.
There is hardly any rivalry between the two nations than India and Pakistan when things go emotionally. The pressure has always been super high on both the teams as the crowd of both nations doesn't want to see their team losing against another. Though India has always emerged as a victorious in all six matches against the arch-rivals in the World Cup still they had a lot to put to get over the line each time.
Well, among so many great rivalries between India and Pakistan, one happened the World Cup on 1st March 2003 at SuperSport Park, Centurion, South Africa. Both teams came to this match after winning their previous match against England and the Netherlands but really know about cricket then you will know that it does not matter in India-Pakistan clash whether you win or lose against other opponents. Such is pressure on both teams.
However, going to this match, India had an upper hand who won all three previous clash against Pakistan in the World Cup. In this high-pressure match, Pakistan's Waqar Younis had won the toss opted to bat first. Pakistan made most of this opportunity and put 273 for 7 wickets on board. Saeed Anwar played a brilliant knock of 101 off 126 balls.
The target was tricky and was even more difficult against the likes of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, and Waqar Younis, three of the best pacers of all time. India open with master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and Virendra Sehwag. Most of the batsmen would have preferred to see off the new ball against the pace trio but Tendulkar and Sehwag had some other plans.
Sachin Tendulkar opened the account with a beautiful punch through the cover off Akram on just 3rd ball of the innings. Sehwag did the same on the last ball of the over. With 9 runs over, India started brilliantly. Shoaib Akhtar had the ball at the other end. That was the over when smacked Akhtar all around the park and shed his pent-up anxiety with three strokes in Shoaib's opening over to jumpstart a classic inning. The first of them - reaching out (were he not so pumped up, he would surely have let it pass for a wide), at once cutting and tipping, very high over the square third-man boundary - would become an icon; its sheer thrill, and nationalist symbolism, was a sort of belated rebuff to the Miandad six.
The second stroke was his lovely trademark - back in the crease and diverting a reasonable delivery to square leg with lovely wrist work. But the third shot was the stunner. A little trot across to off stump, block, down the ground to the on, four. No backlift, no follow-through, none needed. He simply met the ball with the perfection and the execution began there and finished there, magically frozen in time. The crowd, easily the most vivid of the tournament, had gone quite wild.
India reached to their 50 in just 5 overs. It was the 6th over of the innings which swung the pendulum into Pakistan's favor when Waqar Younis dismissed Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly on back to back balls and India reduced to 53 for 2. Now, the master blaster had the responsibility to take his team over the line.
That was the time when the all-time great shown the maturity and put up a masterclass show further. The master blaster played with ease as none of the Pakistan bowlers was looking to get him out. However, Wasim Akram trapped him with an inswinger which Tendulkar couldn't keep the ball down and played in the air but Abdul Razzak misjudged the ball and put down a real possible chance to go through India's middle order.
Mohammad Kaif gave a good company to the master blaster and both added 102 runs for the 3rd wicket. When Tendulkar and India looking to crush Pakistan, Shahid Afridi brought Pakistan back into the game with Kaif's wicket with 119 runs were still needed. Tendulkar was still at the crease but really started struggling due cramp and was not able to run. Virendra Sehwag came as a runner for him but Tendulkar was still struggling in playing shots and when he was on 98 off 75 balls (14 fours and a six), he couldn't handle a quick bouncer of Shoaib Akhtar and caught out at the point at the team total of 177.
However, the master blaster had done his job, India still needed 97 runs to win. Two of India's best players Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh paired together and didn't let any damage further and took India over the line with 26 balls to spare. Both remained unbeaten on 44 and 50 respectively.
India won quite comfortably in the end and it was Sachin Tendulkar who was the architect of it. He simply was outstanding until he got out. There were a few moments when India looked in trouble but he kept the tempo of the innings with his extraordinary ability to play shots. With no surprise, Tendulkar was adjudged Man Of The Match for his great knock that could simply be one of the greatest knocks in World Cup matches that have played. India reached the final but only to lose to Australia. Sachin Tendulkar was the highest scorer of the tournament and was awarded Player Of The Tournament.
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