Pakistan eye series win at favourite venue
02 January, 2013
KOLKATA: When Pakistan last featured in an ODI at the Eden Gardens, in 2004, John Wright was still India's coach, Sachin Tendulkar was a 'regular' in limited-overs cricket, T20s and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were yet to appear on the scene and Rahul Dravid was still carrying two types of gloves in his kit bag - the regular ones to shore up a wobbly middle-order and the big ones to keep wickets.
India and Pakistan have only played each other sporadically in the last eight years. New faces have replaced old legs, but cricket's most fascinating rivalry still retains the fizz that fills the stands and drives TRP ratings.
As the Misbah-ul-Haq-led Pakistan squad trooped into the City of Joy on New Year's eve, looking to wrap up the three-match ODI series, it was clear that winds of change have also swept through their ranks.
While Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal are the only surviving members of the Pakistan side, led by Inzamam-ul Haq, that had humbled India by six wickets in the BCCI Platinum Jubilee (one-off) match played on November 13, 2004, only two Indian players - Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh - from that match have survived the ravages of time and form.
Winning is the only thing that matters in India-Pakistan clashes, and the visitors from across our western border have a monopoly over it at the Eden Gardens where they boast an all-win record against India in limited-overs cricket. Their winning streak here dates back to 1987, when Kolkata hosted its first-ever ODI.
Krishnamachari Srikkanth's brilliant 103-ball 123 was overshadowed by Salim Malik's fearsome onslaught - a 36-ball unbeaten 72. Pakistan had clinched the issue with two wickets and three balls to spare in a 40-overs-per-side game.
Pakistan have also won the three other ODIs they have played here, including the Nehru Cup final against the mighty West Indies in 1989 when their skipper Imran Khan played a stellar role, both with bat and ball.
Pakistan, of course, had beaten India by 77 runs in the earlier phase of the tournament at the same venue with Imran contributing a 39-ball unbeaten 47. Pakistan's only setback here was against Sri Lanka in the 'second' final of the Independence Cup in 1997. All these matches were before Sachin Tendulkar had burst on to the scene. The Eden crowd will, no doubt, miss the Little Master, whose aggregate of 496 runs in 13 matches is unlikely to be surpassed in a hurry.
Incidentally, Sachin's last appearance here in coloured clothing was in 2009 when India chased down Sri Lanka's 315/6 with 7 wickets and 11 balls to spare.
India may not have won an ODI against Pakistan at Eden Gardens, but their overall record here is not too bad, having won 10 of the 18 matches they have played here. Among the seven losses India have suffered here, the one against Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup semifinal was a real heart-breaker.
PAKISTAN IN ODIs AT EDEN GARDENS
Feb 18, 1987: India 238/6 in 40 ovs (Srikkanth 123, Azharuddin 49; Akram 3/49, Imran 2/59). Pakistan 241/8 in 39.3 ovs (Rameez 58, Younis Ahmed 58, Salim Malik 72 no; Shastri 4/38).
Pak won by 2 wkts
Oct 28, 1989 (Nehru Cup league match): Pakistan 279/7 in 50 ovs (Aamer Malik 51, Rameez 77, Imran 47 no; Ayub 2/31). India 202 all out in 42.3 ovs (Srikkanth 65, Lamba 57; Mushtaq Ahmed 3/51). Pak won by 77 runs.
Nov 1, 1989 (Nehru Cup final): West Indies 273/5 in 50 ovs (Haynes 107 no, Simmons 40; Imran 3/47). Pakistan 277/6 in 49.5 ovs (Ijaz Ahmed 56, Salim Malik 71, Imran 51 no; winston Benjamin 2/71). Pak won by 4 wkts.
May 27, 1997 (Independence Cup, 2nd final): Sri Lanka 309 in 49.4 ovs (Jayasuriya 55, Aravinda 57, Ranatunga 59; Saqlain 4/53). Pakistan 224 in 43.1 ovs (Rameez 76, Ijaz 55; Murali 3/40).
Sri Lanka won by 85 runs
Nov 13, 2004 (BCCI Platinum Jubilee match): India 292/6 in 50 ovs (Sehwag 53, Laxman 43, Ganguly 48, Yuvraj 78). Pakistan 293/4 in 49 runs (Salman Butt 108 no, Shoaib Malik 61, Inzamam 75). Pakistan won by 6 wkts.