Has cricket helped to unite South Asia?


India versus Pakistan and the power of a six: an analysis of cricket results BMJ Volume 328, p 800

How have India and Pakistan fared against each other in cricket? What effect did one dramatic match in 1986 have on the performance of the teams? And could the answer to this question allow peace to blossom in South Asia?

In this week's BMJ, researchers compared 50 years of test matches and one day matches between India and Pakistan.

They analysed all 133 matches between 1952 and 2003 before and after one shot in 1986 when Pakistan batsman Javad Miandad scored a dramatic match-winning six off the last ball in a one day match that his side had looked like losing until that delivery.

It has been suggested that this shot may have galvanised the emotions of these two nations in a manner unparalleled in sport.

Overall, Pakistan was more likely to win after Miandad's six. Factors such as venue, winning the toss, and batting first were not associated with outcome.

These data suggest that in one day matches, Miandad's six inspired an improvement in Pakistan's performance or a decline in India's, or both, but this effect was small in test cricket, say the authors.

They believe that these data support their hypothesis that a single shot had an enduring influence. "Now India must have a landmark victory of its own it may have already," they conclude.

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