In case you had not heard, India have never lost a men’s cricket World Cup match against Pakistan. Not in the traditional, long-standing One Day International format (7-0). Not in the exciting, ever-evolving, action-packed Twenty20 International format (5-0). Twelve matches, twelve wins for India over the years.

You can dread it, run from it, destiny arrives all the same. Before every World Cup meeting between the two great rivals, this factoid will inevitably dominate the discussions.

And so here we are... the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. Chapter 13. Will it be the lucky charm for Pakistan? Or will India make it 13-0?

India Pakistan H2H

Format Matches played India won Pakistan won Draw/Tie/No Result
ODI 132 55 73 4
T20I 8 6 (7 incl. bowl out) 1 1 (India won bowl out)
World Cups (both formats) 12 12 0 1
Result Margin Opposition Ground Match date
India 43 runs ODI v Pakistan Sydney 4 Mar 1992
India 39 runs ODI v Pakistan Bengaluru 9 Mar 1996
India 47 runs ODI v Pakistan Manchester 8 Jun 1999
India 6 wickets ODI v Pakistan Centurion 1 Mar 2003
tied, India win bowlout - T20I v Pakistan Durban 14 Sep 2007
India 5 runs T20I v Pakistan Johannesburg 24 Sep 2007
India 29 runs ODI v Pakistan Mohali 30 Mar 2011
India 8 wickets T20I v Pakistan Colombo (RPS) 30 Sep 2012
India 7 wickets T20I v Pakistan Dhaka 21 Mar 2014
India 76 runs ODI v Pakistan Adelaide 15 Feb 2015
India 6 wickets T20I v Pakistan Kolkata 19 Mar 2016
India 89 runs ODI v Pakistan Manchester 16 Jun 2019

In Dubai on Sunday, India open their bid to reclaim the T20 World Cup against the team they defeated to win the first title back in 2007. The first World T20 in 2007 witnessed two epic meetings between India and Pakistan, but such exciting clashes have since been a rarity in what is often billed as the most exciting rivalry only for the action to fall short of the hype.

India’s domination over Pakistan, however, will be put to arguably the sternest test in recent times because this is the format that the Babar Azam-led side are often at their best. The unpredictabilities of the format itself goes perfectly fine with the glorious uncertainties of Pakistan cricket. Virat Kohli and Co, by most accounts, start as favourites on Sunday but it is no by means expected to be a straightforward assignment for India.

In fact, the form of both teams ahead of their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 opener only adds to the intrigue. The Group 2 contest might be the first T20 meeting between these two rivals since the last time this tournament was played in 2016 (when Kohli bowed in front of Sachin Tendulkar after a classy half century). No teams have won more T20Is in the intervening period than India and Pakistan.

Of course, international T20Is are not the best metric to judge form over a period of time because apart from the World Cups, teams rarely play their best teams consistently in this format. The World Cup is a different beast.

Pakistan come into the Super 12s contest with 11 wins in a row in the United Arab Emirates, even if the last match was in November 2018. India will be playing a T20 international for the first time in UAE.

India head into the contest with two big wins against England and Australia in their warm-up matches with openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma looking in impressive touch. Kohli’s batting is a concern for India but he has an impeccable record against Pakistan in World Cups. He has been dismissed only thrice in six innings (one century, three fifties) and averages more than 120.

Virat Kohli vs Pakistan in ICC World Cups

Runs SR Inns Event Ground Match date
9 42.85 1 2011 ODI WC Mohali 30 Mar 2011
78* 127.86 2 2012 T20I WC Colombo (RPS) 30 Sep 2012
36* 112.50 2 2014 T20I WC Dhaka 21 Mar 2014
107 84.92 1 2015 ODI WC Adelaide 15 Feb 2015
55* 148.64 2 2016 T20I WC Kolkata 19 Mar 2016
77 118.46 1 2019 ODI WC Manchester 16 Jun 2019

Pakistan will depend on the experience of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik while Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman hold the key at the top of the order. The bowling, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali, looks potent to trouble any opposition in the Super 12 stage.

The men in green lost one and won one of their warm-up matches, with the defeat coming against South Africa in a high-scoring affair while they trounced West Indies in the other match.

Also read:

Suresh Raina column: Expect Virat Kohli, Babar Azam to lead from the front in India-Pakistan match

Full text: Virat Kohli on Hardik Pandya’s role at T20 WC, handling pressure of India-Pakistan & more

From 2007 World T20 final to Miandad’s winning six: Best India-Pakistan games in white-ball cricket

First T20I meeting: A famous tie

The arch rivals met in a T20 International for the first time at the 2007 World Cup in Durban.

The group match ended in a tie after both sides made 141 which meant a bowl-out was used to decide the winner.

Mohammad Asif had taken 4-18 and Pakistan, who had already made sure of their place in the next round, looked set to win the match but Misbah-ul-Haq (53) was run out off the last ball.

In the bowl-out, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa all hit the stumps but Pakistan’s Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi missed.

The two sides were to meet also in the final at Johannesburg with MS Dhoni-led India famously claiming a five-run win. Meanwhile, Pakistan went to claim the 2009 title.

Captains’ corner

Here’s what the India and Pakistan captains had to say ahead of the big clash:

We are in a situation where we are in charge over what we need to do on the team, and we understand for that to happen, we need to be in the most balanced place possible. We feel pressure playing any kind of game, and it’s also a thing to understand that as professional cricketers, you eventually start thinking about the situation that you’re going to be in as batsmen and bowlers, or batters and bowlers, I should say, and it’s very important for us to keep focused on that because a game like this, there’s such unnecessary stuff from a professional point of view happening on the outside there. It’s fine. It’s fine, as long as that stays outside our controlled environment and we just focus on what we need to do as cricketers.

Hence I always maintain that for me it’s never been different to any other game of cricket that we play. Yes, the atmosphere in the stadium is different, and our mindset is no different, our preparations are no different, and our approach to the game is also certainly no different.

— Virat Kohli on the mood surrounding an India-Pakistan match

We have forgotten what we have done in the past and we are trying to focus on the future. We will try to do better on the field in this match and we will try to produce better results.

We are very excited to play the World Cup, very excited for this event. The mood in the camp is very confident, we are all very excited. Everybody is excited, and as you know, that the first game is always very crucial, and we will try to produce some good performances in the first game and try to carry forward those performances. We are very confident about the event and the matches coming up.

— Babar Azam on not focussing on India's record against Pakistan in World Cups

With AFP and ESPNCricinfo Statsguru inputs. Match starts: 7:30 PM IST and will be broadcast on Star Sports & Disney+Hotstar.