If Pakistan has never beaten India in a World Cup match, India is yet to defeat these opponents in Eden Gardens © Getty Images
If Pakistan has never beaten India in a World Cup match, India is yet to defeat these opponents at Eden Gardens in a limited-overs format © Getty Images

Cricket has witnessed a few arch rivalries that compliment the sport. The Ashes, of course, in the oldest of them all (it even pre-dates the Olympics). However, the most intense one is the contest between India and Pakistan. While the other series are played regularly, the murky political difference between India and Pakistan has become one of the biggest hurdles in cricket. Politics has deprived the sport and its lovers the most beautiful rivalry that invariably ensures entertainment. The World Cup and the World T20 are the only times when the India and Pakistan lock horns. When a big ICC tournament is around the corner, the Indians and Pakistanis have one notion in mind: defeating their arch-rivals in the big event. The most-awaited India-Pakistan ICC World T20 2016 match has been shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata due to security reasons. However, this move of shifting venue has now taken a step towards a new history about to be written. READ: ICC T20 World Cup 2016: India-Pakistan relation shows cricket is not the winner after all

If Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup or World T20 match, having played a total of 10 times that includes six matches in ICC Cricket World Cup and four in ICC World T20s, India are yet to defeat these opponents in a limited-overs contest at Kolkata. Eden Gardens is no ordinary stadium. The raucous cheers soar with every passing delivery. People stream into the ground in thousands to support Team India (or Kolkata Knight Riders, depending on the tournament); unfortunately, they are yet to witness their country beating the neighbours in limited-overs cricket. India and Pakistan have locked horns four times at Eden Gardens — in 1987, 1989, 2004 and 2013 — and it were the visitors who have triumphed in the end.

Team Result Margin Toss Bat Opposition Ground Start Date
India lost 2 wickets lost 1st v Pakistan Kolkata Feb 18, 1987
India lost 77 runs won 2nd v Pakistan Kolkata Oct 28, 1989
India lost 6 wickets won 1st v Pakistan Kolkata Nov 13, 2004
India lost 85 runs won 2nd v Pakistan Kolkata Jan 3, 2013

The last time India played in this ground was two years back during Sri Lanka’s tour of India 2014 and it was India who finished on the winning side (remember Rohit Sharma’s 264?). Nevertheless, it was an ODI; their previous T20I at Eden Gardens was in 2011, against England — of course, there was a match scheduled against South Africa in 2015, but it was washed out. The England match was no motivation at the moment, because the hosts failed to win it. However, the recent form of the Indian side indicates it will be these players who will break the jinx in the upcoming event. MS Dhoni and co. are a way stronger side that might become the first Indian team since 1987 to beat Pakistan in Kolkata.

India-Pakistan’s last meeting in Asia Cup T20 2016 clearly demonstrated which side is better. The Indian team ran over Pakistan in the first innings when they bowled out the Men in Green for an embarrassing total of 83 in 17.3 overs. Pakistan lasted at crease only for 77 minutes before Mohammad Aamer unleashed himself on a classy Indian batting line-up. Aamer’s mind-blowing spell of 3 for 18 from 4 overs was the only factor that helped Pakistan being optimistic for the remainder of the tournament. However, the optimism ended when Pakistan lost at the hands of Bangladesh, which was surely a downward curve prior to ICC World T20 2016. Meanwhile, India conquered the same Bangladesh in style, twice and both the times with an ease.

While Pakistan have the terror in Aamer, India have a bunch of attacking batsmen who can take the attack to the opposition camp. In the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, they probably have the strongest top-order in T20Is. Pakistan also have big hitters with the mercurial Shahid Afridi, the belligerent Ahmed Shehzad, the consistent Shoaib Malik and the ruthless Sarfraz Ahmed, they do not have a trump card which India have towards the end of the line-up. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja form a triumvirate to back up the top-order and take the score beyond the scope of the opposition.

Keep the pressure of the ICC World T20 aside, keep the political dramas aside, there is no doubt there will be nothing but fireworks when these two sides face each other at the iconic Eden Gardens. A jinx will finally break. History will be written. Only time will tell if it will go the ‘Mahi Way’ or Pakistan will finally shut out the Mauka Mauka commercial for good with their first win in a World Cup match against their arch rivals.

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)