For any Indian cricket fan, the 1996 World Cup is remembered largely for the 2nd quarterfinal between India and Pakistan, played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Though I was a little boy then, I vividly remember the key moments from the match.
With high-voltage tension, sledging, and brilliant performances, the match was a complete blockbuster. Batting first, India posted 287 runs on the board, helped mainly by the solid batting from Navjot Singh Sidhu (93 runs) and some late-over flourish by Ajay Jadeja (45 runs in 25 balls).
Then came the moment of the match: the ugly verbal-spat between Aamer Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad. Aamer started playing aggressively and looked in hurry to finish the match early. After smashing Prasad for a boundary, brashly signaled the bowler to fetch the ball. However, the bowler had the last laugh. Off the very next ball, Prasad bowled Sohail and showed him the way to the dressing room and the Chinnaswamy Stadium erupted. After Sohail's exit, Pakistan lost their way and eventually lost the match. ICC World Cup, League Match, 2003
This was during a time when Team India was led by Sourav Ganguly. And team had some of the big names in the playing eleven, who are now legends of the game. A day before the match, Sourav, while addressing the media at SuperSport Park, Centurion, labeled the match as the "Mother of all Games".
While batting first, Pakistan posted a challenging total of 273, thanks to the solid start from the opener Saeed Anwar, who was playing his last World Cup. They had Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar in their bowling line up, yet could not prevent India from registering their third consecutive win in ICC World Cup and securing a place in the Super Six.
The match is fondly remembered for the moment when Sachin Tendulkar cut a short, rising delivery from Akhtar for a 6 over the third man fielder! Sachin scored a brilliant 98, unfortunately falling short of a well-deserved century. India won by 6 wickets.
ICC World Twenty20, Group Match, 2007
Until 2007, India had won all matches against Pakistan in World Cups. But to beat them 3-0 in cricket was something unique and unheard of. After being sent to bat, India, with able contribution from Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni, and Irfan Pathan put up a par-score of 141 in 20 overs. Pakistan, while chasing, never looked comfortable in their game until Misbah-ul-Haq anchored the innings with a gritty half-century.
The match went till the last ball and ended in a tie, which saw the two teams fight it out in a bowl-out for the first time in cricket history. India eventually won the ball-out and the game 3-0.
ICC World Twenty20 Final, 2007
Just days after the nail-biting match at the group stage of 2007 World T20, India and Pakistan met each other again in the final of the tournament. The match saw a thrilling contest between bat and ball, and at the end the better team won.
Yet again, for the second time in the tournament, a match between the two teams went to the final over. To bowl the last over, the ball was thrown to a rather inexperienced and unknown Joginder Sharma, who became an overnight hero in India for his calm and composed last over heroics, while Pakistan's Misbah-Ul-Haq became a villain in Pakistan for his attempted scoop which cost him his wicket and his country the inaugural T20 World Cup. India won the match by 5 runs to lift the trophy.
The World T20 win changed Indian cricket thereafter in three major ways:
1. A new leader, in the form of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was born.
2. Leveraging on the success of the win, BCCI founded the Indian Premier League.
3. Style of the game changed, giving way to fearless and aggressive brand of cricket. ICC Cricket World Cup, Semifinal, 2011
The arch-rivals met again in World Cup 2011; not in the final, but in the semifinal. A lot of hype was created ahead of the match because both the Ind-Pak had made it to the semifinal and the match was to be played at Mohali, a venue just few miles from the India-Pakistan border.
With diplomats, celebrities, politicians from both sides of the border filling up the spectator’s seats in Mohali, the match was no less than a war. Owing to a brilliant show by the Indian batters and some embarrassing fielding by Pakistan, the match went in India’s favour with the host winning the game by 29 runs. Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing his last Word Cup, was adjudged the Man of the Match.