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India vs Pakistan, ‘nagin dance’, Ashes : A look at cricket’s top rivalries

Some of the most thrilling encounters in sport have been between nations or athletes with historic rivalries that add an extra layer of anticipation and drama.

In cricket, these rivalries range from sour relations stemming from decades-old conflicts to colonial history and some newly-formed bitterness.

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The ICC Cricket World Cup will see all of these rivalries play out on the field as the tournament’s round-robin-styled group stage means all 10 teams play each other on at least one occasion.

Here is a look at some of the most thrilling match-ups in the history of the game:

India vs Pakistan

The clash that has been the biggest, quickest-selling and most anticipated match of every multilateral cricket tournament.

The rivalry originated in 1947 when India was partitioned into two countries following British colonial rule. Pakistan and India have since fought three wars, and diplomatic ties between both countries have mostly remained bitter.

On the cricket field, the head-to-head record favours Pakistan in Test matches (12-9) and one-day internationals (73-56) while India have the upper hand in T20 matches (8-3).

When it comes to World Cup history, the scale is heavily tilted in India’s favour. Pakistan have never beaten India in the ICC ODI World Cup in their seven meetings and have only won once in their seven encounters in the T20 World Cup.

This time around, the match is scheduled for October 14 at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

Tickets for the high-profile match sold out within an hour of release and travelling fans have been finding it difficult to find accommodation in and around the city, according to reports in Indian media.

Fans in Pakistan, meanwhile, have been unable to even travel to India for the World Cup due to issues acquiring Indian visas.

Australia vs England

The oldest rivalry in the game – dating back to the 1800s – originated when a British newspaper famously wrote a condescending and racist article on Australia’s cricket team.

It was set in stone when, in 1882, British tabloid The Sporting Times published a mock obituary of English cricket following their Test team’s defeat to their trans-continental rivals, saying “the body [of English cricket] will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.

The bitterness originated from Test cricket and comes to the fore during the Ashes Test series, but has carried on to all sporting encounters between both countries.

In Cricket World Cup history, both teams have met on nine occasions. Australia have won six of those matches and England three, the most recent and important being their eight-wicket semifinal win at home in 2019 en route to their first World Cup title.

England’s first T20 World Cup title also came at Australia’s expense, when they won the 2010 final in the West Indies.

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 edition of Australia vs England is scheduled for November 4 at Bengaluru.

Afghanistan vs Pakistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been involved in a complicated geopolitical and cultural relationship for several decades and share a porous border that is often subject to violence and abrupt closures.

The political tensions have translated into a fierce on-field rivalry, especially over the past few years as Afghanistan have swiftly built a reputation as world beaters.

Several members of the early Afghan cricket team, including former captains Gulbadin Naib and Mohammed Nabi, picked up the sport while living in Pakistan as refugees during the decades of war and turmoil in their home country.

Pakistan’s National Cricket Academy in Lahore hosted the players for training sessions. Some of the earliest coaches of the Afghan team also came from Pakistan.

However, the historical tension between the countries has often come to the fore when the teams have met in recent years. Although Pakistan hold a 7-0 lead over their neighbours in ODI cricket and a 4-2 lead in T20 internationals, some recent matches have seen last-ball finishes that have gone Pakistan’s way.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah has been a consistent thorn in the Afghan side by twice taking Pakistan home when a loss seemed certain.

This mix of history and last-ball finishes has ended up igniting a fire in both sets of fans. Things got particularly ugly last year when some angry Afghan fans vandalised the stadium and threw chairs at their Pakistani counterparts after losing a thrilling match in the 2022 Asia Cup.

This came after tempers flared on the pitch when Pakistani batter Asif Ali angrily waved his bat at Afghan bowler Fareed Ahmad.

The neighbours meet again in Chennai on October 23.

Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka

It started with a dance, specifically the “nagin dance”, in 2018.

Bangladesh bowler Nazmul Islam had been doing the nagin (cobra in Hindi) dance to celebrate his wickets for some time, so when his side beat Sri Lanka in the T20 series in January 2018, he pulled it out again for all four of his wickets.

Sri Lanka’s Danushka Gunathilaka did not take kindly to the serpentine celebration and did his own version to mock Islam when he dismissed two of Bangladesh’s batters.

A few months later, the celebration gained traction during the triangular Nidahas trophy, which also included India. When Bangladesh recorded their second win against hosts Sri Lanka, their entire team broke out into an overzealous “nagin dance” celebration on the pitch.

The night ended with shattered glass in the visiting team’s dressing room and nothing has changed since.

Every time both teams meet, there is no shortage of provocative placards in the stands and venomous celebrations on the field.

In ODI cricket, Sri Lanka have won 42 of their 53 ODI meetings between both countries, while Bangladesh have won nine. They also hold the upper hand in the World Cup, four wins in five matches.

The South Asian nations are set to meet on November 6 in New Delhi.

Australia vs India

While these two of the sport’s “big three” have been playing against each other since the 1940s, the contest picked up traction in the 1980s and became a full-on rivalry in the 2000s.

Most of the heated exchanges and thrilling encounters have taken place in Test cricket’s Border-Gavaskar Trophy, especially since the famous Eden Gardens Test match in 2001 that saw India come back from a follow-on to win the match by two wickets.

A heated exchange between Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh and Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds led to the famous “monkeygate” scandal, which saw Singh get banned and then unbanned during the series.

In the Cricket World Cup, both teams have met in the knock-out stages of the tournament in recent years.

In 2011, India famously beat Australia by five wickets in a closely-contested quarterfinal to win the World Cup at home.

Australia returned the favour four years later when they eased to a 95-run win in Sydney and went on to lift their World Cup fifth title.

Both teams opened their 2023 campaign against each other in a thrilling tie on Sunday in Chennai, which India won by six wickets after a rocky start to their run chase.

The overall ODI record of 150 matches still favours Australia, with 83 wins compared with India’s 50. The five-time champions have also won in eight of their 13 meetings in the Cricket World Cup and India have won five.

Source: Al Jazeera

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