Euro 2020 Special

More Than 15 Years Have Passed Since the Last India Pakistan Test

Informal inquiries were made last month by the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) and the government of the State of Victoria about the possibility of the famous MCG hosting a test match between India and Pakistan.

When the two sides met there in the T20I World Cup in Australia, it produced a thriller which India won off the last ball of the match in front of a capacity crowd.

And with no prospect of political tensions between the two countries abating to allow either to play the other on home soil in the near future, a neutral venue might offer the best chance of staging a revival of one of the biggest rivalries in sport at test level.


Test history

India and Pakistan have played each other in test matches 59 times, and the current head-to-head record is 9 wins to India, 12 to Pakistan, with 38 draws making up the rest of the total. However, they have not faced each other in the test format since 2007.

Even in the World Test Championship where all the major test playing nations are meant to play each other over a two year cycle between finals, special dispensation is made to keep the two countries apart.

They have not faced each other in bilateral international cricket, with the exception of World Cups and the Asia Cup since 2013.

To prove that resentments are never far from the surface, when it was announced that Pakistan would host the 2023 version of the Asia Cup, India threatened to boycott the tournament unless it was moved.

In an act of tit for tat retaliation, Pakistan then threatened to pull out of the 50 over a side World Cup which India are hosting next year.

It means that a whole generation of cricketers from both countries has missed the chance to play in one of the biggest events in test cricket.


2022 Meetings

That clash in the World Cup was the third of three meetings between the two, all of which happened in the space of two months.

The first two had come in the Asia Cup with India winning their group match, but Pakistan got their revenge in the knock-out stages of the tournament.


The crowds would certainly come

Even though Australia is a neutral venue, any match between the two would almost certainly be a sell-out.

The World Cup game was watched by more than 90,000 people in the stands. And with both countries boasting large expatriate communities in Australia, demand for tickets would far out-strip supply without taking into account local interest in the fixture.

And it would also offer a bonanza to broadcasters and advertisers with such a contest likely to attract a global TV audience.

It was not just the numbers who turned up that made it a special occasion, but the noise that that they made with MCC Stuart Fox describing the atmosphere as phenomenal, saying that he had “never seen anything like it at the MCG.”

The MCG also hosted the World Cup final between England and Pakistan where the vast majority of fans supported the Pakistanis.

Already, they are looking forward to the Boxing Day Test next year when Pakistan will be playing Australia.


Scheduling may be a problem

One issue may be scheduling. The cricket calendar is already full with international cricket having to accommodate the increasing demand for players from T20 franchise leagues.

Players are already complaining about the demands that are being placed on them. And for the top stars, it is now almost a 365-days-a-year job.

At this point, there is no obvious date over the next few years when time might be found for such a match and ambitions to extend it to a three match series look far-fetched.


Local Boards to Decide

The ultimate decision as to whether to play such a test rests with the local boards – the BCCI in India and the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) in the case of Pakistan – and it is unclear how much appetite there is on either side for bi-lateral encounters to continue.

However, if there is a relaxation of the tensions, there is at least one venue ready to step up if required.




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