Aun Haider | 12:40am BST 16 May 2023
It has been approximately 5632 days or 16 years since Pakistan and India last played a Test match. Among the countless rivalries In the world of sports, very few can match the sheer intensity and hype of the India-Pakistan rivalry. India and Pakistan not playing bilaterals, especially the Test series, is a significant loss for both world cricket and the enduring legacy of Test cricket itself. Test Cricket is already dying, or at least it is not getting any more popular. In a world full of T20 and franchise cricket, we somehow need to keep Test Cricket alive, and there can’t be any better endorsement for the format than Pakistan-India playing a test series. But is it possible? Is there any possibility of these giants playing a Test Series in the foreseeable future? Let’s delve deeper into this query to uncover the prospects.
The Origins Of The Rivalry
The origins of this rivalry go way back to 1947, when Pakistan came into existence after the partition of British India. The longstanding political tensions between these two nations have played a pivotal role in shaping the magnitude of this rivalry. The first cricket match between India and Pakistan took place in 1952, and the rivalry quickly developed into a spectacle that went beyond sport. Pakistan and India have played a total of 203 international matches, with Pakistan holding the edge, leading the head-to-head record 88-73.
In the 59 Tests played between Pakistan and India, Pakistan emerged victorious in 12 matches, while India claimed 9 wins, with the remaining games resulting in draws. Presently, India holds the top spot in the ICC Test Rankings, while Pakistan holds the sixth position.
Relations Between Pakistan and India
The tumultuous political relationship between Pakistan and India stands as the primary catalyst for the discontinuation of the bilateral series between the two nations. The last white-ball series played between Pakistan and India took place in 2012-2013, with subsequent encounters limited to ICC events alone. The Kashmir dispute has been a significant hurdle in the resumption of Pak-Ind bilaterals.
Compounding the situation, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) find themselves embroiled in a dispute concerning the hosting rights of the Asia Cup 2023. This contentious issue has further diminished the prospects of any bilateral series materializing soon. The current state of affairs between the PCB and BCCI serves as a stark reminder of the prevailing dynamics between the two boards, wherein egos and political factors threaten to erode the essence of cricket itself.
Despite the political differences and the ongoing hiatus in cricketing ties, the spirit of cricket is a common thread that binds Pakistan and India. Both share a deep passion for the sport, and the shared history and cultural similarities often surface on the cricket field. The camaraderie and mutual respect between the players, despite the intense rivalry, is a testament to the sport’s unifying power.
A Test Match In The Future: A Slim Hope
Given the current political situation between the two nations, the prospects of India and Pakistan engaging in a Test match in the foreseeable future are bleak. The only plausible scenario where these arch-rivals could clash in a Test match is during the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC). However, since the finalists of the ongoing WTC are locked, we have to wait until 2025 to see anything like that happening.
Recently, there were speculations regarding the possibility of Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) hosting a Test series between Pakistan and India. However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) downplayed the idea, expressing their lack of interest in engaging in any series with Pakistan. MCC Chief Executive, Stuart Fox, acknowledged the electric atmosphere generated during the Pakistan-India group-stage match of the 2022 T20 World Cup and expressed his desire for a three-match Test series at the MCG, emphasizing the massive turnout and vibrant energy it would attract.
The absence of Pakistan-India Test matches has deprived the cricket world of some potentially spectacular match-ups. Cricket enthusiasts could only imagine the thrill of watching Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Rishabh Pant bat against Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Yasir Shah. Similarly, Babar Azam, Imam Ul Haq, and Abdullah Shafique are yet to face the challenge of playing against the Indian Test team, probably the best test side in the world currently. These missed opportunities underscore the immense loss to the cricketing world.
Conclusion: A Complex Interplay of Sports and Politics
Ultimately, the Pakistan-India cricket rivalry serves as a microcosm of the more enormous political tensions between the two nations. The prospect of a Test Match between India and Pakistan in the near future is slim due to the ongoing political situation but never say never. The shared love of cricket and the sport’s potential to foster goodwill offers a glimmer of hope. As we move forward, the cricketing world awaits a time when sport can indeed be separated from politics, and the iconic India-Pakistan Test matches can once again be a regular feature of the cricketing calendar.