India and Pakistan © PTI
India and Pakistan clashed five times in 50-over World Cups and three times in World T20s and each time India defeated them © PTI

With less than a month to go for the ICC World Cup 2015, there has been a lot of talk about the India-Pakistan contest. While there have been little or no comments from the Indian side, Pakistan’s current and former players have already commenced the pre-match chatter. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that Pakistan may already be feeling the pressure for the big game, as they have never beaten India in the World Cup.

If one goes through the record books, one would find that Pakistan have had an upper hand over India in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). In 126 encounters, Pakistan have been victorious on 72 occasions — a stat that clearly reflects their dominance over their arch rivals. However, the tables turn around drastically in the World Cup, where Pakistan continue to search for that elusive victory. In five encounters at the 50-over World Cup, India have beaten on Pakistan on five occasions. And in the World T20, India have been victorious in all the three encounters. Is this record starting to play on the Pakistani minds?

Over the last few days, there have been many comments from the current and former Pakistan players about their World Cup opener against India. With all the talk in their press about this big game, the players have been left with no option but voice their opinions and endeavours ahead of the big clash. Misbah-ul-Haq said Pakistan want to change history. Younis Khan said he wants a ton in a winning cause. Inzamam-ul-Haq hopes Pakistan beat India and has advised the players to be calm. Umar Akmal has also expressed optimism, while newbies Haris Sohail and Mohammad Irfan are eager to face the arch-rivals. Compare this to the other side, and there is hardly any comment from India.

The fact that there is so much talk ahead of the game shows that it is clearly on their minds. It is almost as if the Pakistan cricketers have been asked about that particular game at every press meet or interaction. They are carrying the heavy baggage of never beating India in the World Cup and that may start to play on their minds. Pakistan need to come into the big event with a fresh and a positive frame of mind. However, if they are continuously asked questions about the India game, or the players themselves speak about it, it will only add to the pressure.

Across the border, the Indian fans have always been in awe of the Pakistan team’s fighting ability. In numerous encounters, Pakistan have won games from absolutely hopeless situations and have stunned India. The memories linger as the crowd and the player are wary of that inherent fighting spirit. Unfortunately, that spirit fizzles out in World Cup clashes. It is not so much about ability, as much as it is about the psychology. With each passing World Cup, the pressure only increases. They need that victory to release it for their successors in years to come.

Psychological baggage is never easy to shed in sport. But, a team eventually does at some point. The wait could be long and painful, but not eternal. At some point, Pakistan will manage a victory in the World Cup. Not when they are under pressure!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)