Cricket in the subcontinent is no less than a religion and India – Pakistan (arguably) the most intense rivalry in the cricketing world. The political tension between the two countries increases the hostility between its supporters, making it more interesting. Traditionally, in the limited encounters that the two teams have had, Pakistan have come out on top more often. However, India has enjoyed a better record in the last two decades. Moreover, every Indian win against Pakistan in World Cups (12/12) has sent the rival fans into a frenzy.
The paradigm shift began when India first won a test series on Pakistani soil, this day that year. The tour is often remembered for more than one reason. Sourav Ganguly’s India were down 1-2 in the 5-match ODI series. But they rallied brilliantly to win both the consequent matches and thus, the series. The Indians were expected to carry the same momentum into the tests and they didn’t disappoint.
Series leveled at 1-1:
Despite Ganguly being unavailable for the first two tests, India flourished remarkably under Rahul Dravid. Virendra Sehwag became the first Indian to score a triple hundred in the First Test. The very innings earned him a title ‘Multan ka Sultan’ shadowing Tendulkar’s mammoth 194*. Rahul Dravid’s decision to declare the innings with Tendulkar only 6 short of a well-deserved double hundred was heavily criticized. However, the Indians were successful bowling out Pakistan twice in 3 days.
However, Pakistan fought back hard winning the Second Test convincingly at Lahore. While both bowling and batting fell apart, India’s had a few takeaways. Yuvraj Singh’s first Test century in the first innings and Sehwag’s gutsy 90 in the second being the major ones.
India creates history on Pakistan soil:
Come the Third Test at Rawalpindi, the entire Indian subcontinent was glued to the television sets. Sourav Ganguly was set to return and left no stones unturned putting the hosts to bat on a seaming wicket. India had never won a series in Pakistan and came all guns blazing right through the start. The bowlers hit the deck hard, extracted movement off the pitch and hardly gave the batsman any width to free his arms. Meanwhile, Rahul Dravid led charge of India’s reply. Courtesy Dravid’s magnificent innings of 270, India built a healthy lead. He endured in the heat for more than 12 hours and played out as many as 495 deliveries (then record). Dravid not only helped India reach a commanding position but in the process also gained his most-known title ‘The Wall’.
“I have always found it difficult to bowl to Dravid. He has a solid defence and rarely commits any mistakes”
India went on to win the Test match by an innings and 131 runs recording one of its biggest wins against Pakistan. Indians were successful in overcoming the struggle to play the Pakistan pacers and found ways to score runs with ease. Be it Sehwag’s magic in the first or Dravid’s spectacle in the last, this series remains a broad memory for many. It will always be cherished as one of India’s most effective Test victories.