What is the biggest rivalry in cricket?

India vs Pakistan is officially and unofficially the biggest rivalry in cricket history. No cricket match sells more tickets than an India vs. Pakistan game in any format. The senior national teams of both sides nurtured and sustained a fiery response to each other in cricket games for decades. Their toe-to-toe rivalry has gone on to become one of world’s sport’s most-anticipated encounters.

Why is India vs Pakistan the Biggest Rivalry in Cricket?

Recent reports suggest that every India vs Pakistan game sees over 300m active viewers worldwide, a massive statistic in sports broadcasting. The encounter also sees both teams produce more revenue compared to every other rivalry on this list.

India’s rivalry versus Pakistan picked up steam in 1947 after the latter’s partition from the former British colony. Pakistan’s first series against India happened in 1951, and both teams have been at each other’s throats for over 7 decades.

Hostilities between both sides died down during the late 1990s and mid-2000s before picking up steam after 2008. A terrorist attack, 100+ dead and hundreds more injured signalled a recharge in hostile performances between both sides. The rivalry between both teams is so intense to the extent where Pakistan players can’t feature in India’s premier cricket league.

Other Major Cricket Rivalries

1. England vs. Australia

England and Australia nurture one of cricket’s ancient rivalries, with hostilities between both sides as old as cricket. The intertwined history of both countries always makes for an interesting spectacle whenever these cricket teams meet, especially in the Ashes.

2. South Africa vs. Australia

Place Australia vs South Africa in any sport, and what you’ll get will be a hotly-contested rivalry between both teams. Australia has always been the team to beat in cricket for some time, and South Africa try to hand the Aussies painful defeats whenever possible. The Proteas made history by handing their Aussie rivals a shock defeat in Australia after 16 years in 2008/9.

3. West Indies vs England

The West Indies endured some nasty comments from English cricketer Tony Greig before a series between both teams:

You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top [, they] are magnificent cricketers. But if they’re down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey and a few others, to make them grovel.”

The Windies took those comments to heart and ended up slamming England with a 3-0 hammering in that 1976 meeting. After the convincing victory, Greig would comically crawl at The Oval to grovel to the delight of attending fans.

4. West Indies vs Australia

The West Indies are no longer on fire compared to the earliest days of ODI cricket, but they always become a bane for the Australian team during every encounter. Australia’s rivalry against the West Indies kindled from the 1975/76 series between both sides where the Aussies snatched a humiliating 5 – 1 victory against their opponents.

The Windies will bounce back after that drubbing to secure one of cricket’s greatest runs in history. They went on to take victories over Australia on seven occasions with three of these triumphs happening on Aussie soil. Fans always get a dose of intense cricket action whenever both nations meet.

5. World Champions vs Everyone Else

The ‘World Champions vs Everyone Else’ rivalry is as old as every major cricket championship. Many world beaters likely face opposition from other teams across each format until they lose their title.

There is always an inbred animosity brewing in teams that don’t get to be world champions. For example, England became ODI World Cup champions in 2019, earning the displeasure of everyone else who couldn’t get their hands on the title. It was evident every other team came for England at the next edition in 2023, with the former champions failing to reach the 2023 final.

Nothing the English did mattered, as daring performances from India, Australia, and other sides condemned the former champions to a trophyless campaign.

6. World Number One vs Everyone Else

Whoever gets to be number one in the cricket rankings also gets to be the team everyone wants to beat. No rivalry needs to exist between both teams in such an encounter, the ranking produces a perfect template for emotions to run wild. Every cricket team with a lower ranking always wants to get the scalp of top teams at any cost. For example, high-ranking teams like India and Australia always face serious opposition from low-ranking sides. Some of these countries toughest games are against seemingly lowly opposition, but they don’t ever get an easy win when matches begin

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