Even Bigger than Super Bowl XL

In case you were trapped under a rock for the past few months, I’ll fill you in: the Super Bowl is this Sunday. But there is a sporting event this week that’s bigger than the NFL Championship. It will take place over 7,000 miles away from Ford Field in Pakistan, over which John Madden is not salivating. It’s cricket’s marquee match-up: India versus Pakistan. The rivalry is bigger than Red Sox/Yankees and Andover/Exeter. When India plays Pakistan, regardless of the location of the match, both countries, and the cricket world come to a standstill. Neither team is close to topping the two-time defending World Champion Australians as the world’s best squad, but the drama that goes into an India/Pakistan series is unprecedented. The series consists of three Test Matches (five days in length, with each team batting two innings) and four One Day Internationals (as the name indicates, one day games in which each team bats for only one inning). In 2004, India visited Pakistan for the first time in 15 years and defeated the home team. In 2005, Pakistan defeated India on its own home turf. Pakistan has already won the Test portion of the series after defeating India 1-0 (two of the Test matches were drawn.) Pakistan routed India in the third test match by 341 runs. Although the third match was not competitive, the majority of the series has thus far been memorable. The first match was a slugfest, in which Pakistan scored 679 runs in its first innings. India then responded by scoring 410 runs before losing its first wicket (getting out). India missed the all-time record for an opening partnership by only three runs. In the second test, the two teams scored 1,191 runs in the first inning, an unusually high score. When India and Pakistan play each other, all statistics and trends might as well be thrown out the window. For example, coming into this series, India was ranked as the second best test team (behind Australia), yet Pakistan still defeated its archrival. A great personal story of the series so far has been that of Mohammad Asif. Entering the third test match, Asif had played a grand total of 2 matches, but ended up taking nearly half of India’s wickets (he was responsible for getting eight of India’s twenty batsmen out). Two countries intertwined in a turbulent political history find refuge in cricket. When India and Pakistan play, legends are made. A sporting event with this magnitude should receive more publicity in America, but then again, so should cricket. So when you kick back this Sunday with your Tostitos or Lays, just remember that thousands of miles away, there is a rivalry and match-up more intense than what the Steelers and Seahawks could ever provide.