- By VVS Laxman
Cricket matches between India and Pakistan have
always been very special. There are several reasons
for the same, but the most important one is the
expectations of the public of both countries.
Another factor, which probably doesn't hold true
today, is that the two countries didn't play each
other all that frequently.
An Indian cricket fan in
Mohali during the first Test
of the 2004-05 series
We are often asked how we prepare ourselves for a
match against Pakistan, and whether our methods of
preparation are any different from what we normally
The fact is that there is more pressure on us when
we play Pakistan. But we do try to prepare and take
the match in a very professional manner, like we do
for any other international game. If we start
taking things too emotionally, we could end up
putting ourselves under greater, undue pressure.
The idea is to just concentrate on our game, play
to our potential and execute the plans that have
been hatched for the opposition.
I grew up watching the matches played between the
two countries, but I never really realised the
intensity of the expectations of fans until I
started participating in the matches myself. Most
of the games between the 'traditional rivals' have
been enjoyable and exciting. The highest point for
me was India's win in the quarter-final of the 1996
World Cup, and the lowest point was Javed Miandad's
last-ball six at Sharjah in 1986.
I used to admire quite a few Pakistani cricketers.
My favourites were Imran Khan for his charisma and
leadership, Zaheer Abbas for his talent and style,
Wasim Akram for the infinite variations in his
bowling and complete mastery of them. But the
player who inspired me the most was Javed Miandad.
He was a real match-winner for his team. His
appetite for runs was unbelievable and his knack of
winning matches from nowhere was his greatest
Touring Pakistan with the Indian team in 2004 was
the most memorable experience of my cricketing
career. I used to always hear and read about
Pakistan, but it was my first visit to that
country. I must admit that the entire team was a
little apprehensive before going on that tour. But
the hospitality and the warmth of the people
exceeded our imagination. It was as if the entire
nation had got together to welcome us! The cricket
itself was competitive. The one-day series went
right down to the wire and I was really pleased to
score an important hundred in the decider. I have
fond memories of that knock of 107, which I was
told later had come off only 104 balls. We had a
great run in the Tests that followed and won the
series 2-1. To be a part of the first Indian team
to win a Test series in Pakistan was a great
feeling. One of the most unforgettable experiences
was the visit to the Wagah border. It felt amazing
to see your compatriots on the other side!
We have trained hard for the ongoing series and
would like to maintain our winning streak. A lot
has been written about the Pakistani team being
devoid of stars, but we are not taking them
lightly. We have played them enough to know that
they cannot be underestimated. Ultimately, the team
that plays to its full potential will win.
- By VVS Laxman