The rivalry between India and Pakistan is without doubt the fiercest in world cricket.
988 million viewers watched the pair’s World Cup semi-final contest in 2011, which made it the most-watched clash in history, and the ICC has admitted to fixing draws so that the two play in a lucrative fixture against each other.
Last Sunday, Oxford saw the clash played out in a microcosm of the usual fixture, with Oxford India Society (OIS) playing Oxford Pakistan Society (PakSoc) in their annual 40-over match.
The preceding week had threatened to ruin the day, with several college games called off due to torrential downpours, but under clear skies and in twenty-degree heat, the University Club ground on Mansfield Road could hardly have looked more picturesque.
Bharat Ramanathan’s men in blue lost the toss and PakSoc, victorious in the previous two encounters, chose to bat first, a decision that would come under scrutiny later in the day. Prashant Pandey’s spell of 8-2-14-4 proved to be the outstanding performance of the day as OIS produced a tight bowling display to rip through the PakSoc top order.
However, the experience and class of PakSoc’s number three Rafiullah Kakar showed in a very impressive knock of 85 on a slow pitch. He displayed great match awareness, knowing when to attack without much support from the other end.
Lucky Bandhu and Jacob Mathew then picked up several wickets each, leaving PakSoc bowled out for a modest 144.
OIS began their reply strongly, only suffering the loss of opener Ishan Kapur, with Sameer Pathak and Vijay Kumar building a composed partnership. The latter took advantage of being dropped twice to progress to a fifty that included several massive sixes down the ground.
PakSoc’s bowling was assured and some tight off-spin delayed India’s march to victory—they were rewarded with the dismissal of both set batsmen.
In the end it was fitting to see OIS’ captain Ramanathan at the crease as the winning runs were hit within 29 overs. Pandey was deservedly awarded man of the match for his game changing opening spell as both sides came together at the post-match presentation.
Overall, this was a fantastic and lively event that involved live commentary, music and a barbecue—long may the tradition continue.