The anticipation surrounding India-Pakistan cricket matches is unparalleled due to the long-standing bilateral suspension between the two nations. The previous encounter between the rivals occurred during the 2022 T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, leaving a lasting impression on close to 90,000 spectators who witnessed an intense clash.
The next rendezvous between these cricket giants is slated for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023, set to commence later this month. Indian cricket legend Anil Kumble, who has participated in several iconic India-Pakistan contests during his illustrious career, recently shared insights about the immense pressure and expectations faced by players in such high-stakes matches.
“In our times, the word was ‘lose even to Kenya but not to Pakistan’. There was pressure and expectation on the players,” Anil Kumble reminisced during the launch of “Pitchside,” a memoir authored by veteran cricket administrator Amrit Mathur. He further emphasized the pivotal aspect of treating these encounters like any other match to overcome the mounting pressure.
Anil Kumble, known for his remarkable feats, recalled his historic performance in 1999 when he achieved a rare milestone by claiming all 10 wickets in a Test innings against Pakistan.
“I did not go onto the field thinking of a 10-wicket haul, though that is the dream of any bowler,” Anil Kumble shared. Reflecting on the unpredictability of cricket, he mentioned a subsequent game against Pakistan during the Asian Test Championship in Kolkata, where he struggled to secure even a single wicket, highlighting the inherent nature of the sport.
In 2004, during India’s tour of Pakistan, Amrit Mathur, who was the Indian cricket team’s manager at the time, recollected the stringent security measures enforced due to the intensity of the rivalry.
“Pakistan was ready to give any amount of security to us. There were police vehicles in front and behind our team bus, a helicopter above the team bus, Rapid Action Force in all major road points and snipers on top of buildings en route to the stadium, especially in Karachi,” Amrit Mathur recalled. Despite the extensive security arrangements, the tour transpired smoothly, adding to the history of cricket’s most riveting contest.