For the past seven to eight years, as an avid cricket follower, I would agree to the fact that Indian cricket team has had profound success at international level, largely attributed to their charismatic leader MS Dhoni under whom the team jelled together and achieved high feats. On the other hand, Pakistan have been on a downslide road, and the team has had a dramatic nosedive in the past two to three years in ODI cricket slipping their way to an embarrassing No 8 in the ICC ODI Rankings.

Back in the '80s and '90s Pakistan had a far superior side than India. Pakistan had a formidable batting line up with the likes of Miandad leading the way, Imran Khan a more than a useful all rounder with the bat and bowl coupled with his leadership skills could beat any team on any given day. Moving forward in the ‘90s we had a lethal bowling attack with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq. The tides have changed, the tables have been turned with India now clearly having the upper hand.

Nevertheless Indo-Pak matches have rarely disappointed the fans. The famous Javed Miandad last ball six, the Banaglore Test Match in 1987 to India successfully defending a paltry 125 total, the action, drama, suspense has been enthralling to say the least. The nerve shattering encounters have been a treat for the fans to watch. Who can forget the first ball of Shoaib to Sachin at Calcutta when he uprooted the middle stump of the Little Master or Sachin’s 98 at 2003 world cup destroying Pakistan’s bowling artillery. This is just a handful of the many memorable encounters between these two sides which are deeply fitted in the minds of fans.

Unfortunately politics has had more than a fair share in sports over the years, cricket is no exception. A bilateral series between the two countries is contingent upon the prevailing political scenario. Hence as of now Indo-Pak matches have been confined to ICC tournaments. How unfortunate is that the famed duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis hardly played any Test Matches against India at their peak when they were running through all the batting line ups of the world. I remember one series in 1998/99 when Pakistan toured India for a two Test match series, although a short tour but it can be argued as the most absorbing series ever between India and Pakistan with the first match won by Pakistan snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, the next test won by India with Anil Kumble bagging 10 wickets in an innings, other than that no bilateral series was held between the two sides in the 90s era.

Virat Kohli may well have played down the hype stating that Indo-Pak matches are just another cricket match for the players. Sure it needs to be that way but history does not back his claim. Over the years we have witnessed incidents of acrimony on cricket field when arch rivals faced other. Be it the famous Aamir Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad incident when Sohail brashly finger pointed the Indian paceman to fetch the ball after hitting a four. The very next bowl Sohail lost his off stump much to the enchantment of the spectators or the viral Youtube video of Gambhir and Afridi fight, or Inzamam when he sprang into the Indian crowd when a guy was calling him Aaloo - the matches are filled with fervor.

Off the field, it’s a different story altogether, India and Pakistan players understandably so get along with each other easily. We may see them exchange heated words on the field but off the field they share a good rapport. The internet is flooded with pictures and videos of Pakistan and Indian players getting along. A game of sport is at the end a game of sport only with the better team getting the honors and as such it should be treated in the same spirit. We hope the better team wins on June 4 with cricket the ultimate winner.