What brings together two dueling countries? Sports, but in this specific case we’re talking about cricket. It’s a bat-and-ball game played on an oval-shaped field and loved by billions of fans around the world. Some people compare the game of cricket to baseball, but the two sports are actually quite different in how teams score, how innings are measured, what the teams do when at-bat versus in the field, and how long the games last. Depending on who you ask, cricket might just be THE most popular sport in both India and Pakistan, two countries that have been bitterly fighting since each gained their independence in 1947.
Last week, the Pakistan cricket team won the coveted International Cricket Council’s Champions Trophy, much to the surprise of fans everywhere. It was a classic underdog story: Pakistan was playing India, a team that had won the World Cup in both 1983 and 2011, as well as a Champions Trophy in 2013, and was favored to win. Heading into the tournament, Pakistan was the lowest ranked team and had been plagued with cheating, match-fixing, and ball-tampering scandals that had tarnished the team’s reputation over the last few decades.
When Pakistan lost in the first round of the tournament, no one was surprised. But what did surprise cricket fans around the world was how Pakistan quickly won the next few rounds, defeating much stronger teams like South Africa and England. While some sports analysts thought the wins were more due to luck than skill, Pakistan proved even the most skeptical of analysts wrong when they beat heavily favored India by not just a few runs, but an overwhelming 180 runs! While the heartbroken fans in India were left shocked by the loss, Pakistan basked in their glorious win.