2003 was a different time for both India and Pakistan. Much like today, some sensible sections of both nations wanted peace and prosperity over a war. A year in which the neighbouring nations agreed to a Cease Fire Agreement.
Such were the relations, that India toured Pakistan the very next year and came out on top by beating them comprehensively in both Test and ODI series. Remember Sehwag's 309? Well, that was in Pakistan.
India vs Pakistan has always been a clash charged with emotions, energy and the determination to get one over the other, for players and fans both. If we're to compare it with a footballing rivalry it is 10 times bigger than El Clasico and North-West Derby (Manchester United vs Liverpool).
This game is the only one where I'll see even my grandma glued to the television, constantly asking about the score and the players who are batting. It was the fourth World Cup meeting between the neighbours, exactly 16-years back when 'someone' named Sachin Tendulkar stayed true to his godly status, scoring 98 off 75 balls at Centurion.
I still remember, as a 7-year old, how disheartening it was watching Saeed Anwar's classy century help Pakistan to a total of 273. It was a match between India's batting vs Pakistan's bowling; India, possessing the likes Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in their batting lineup and Pakistan having the likes Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdur Razzak at their disposal.
It was a match Tendulkar said he'd been thinking/listening about for a year. Having spent 12 sleepless nights, Tendulkar's audacity upfront changed everything. Slamming Pakistani bowlers as if he playing at a local cricket club, the Master Blaster showed no signs of anxiety. His majestic six over the square third man became an iconic shot. To the amusement of many, this was the only time I saw my father jump in joy, and scream, “Only this man can hit a shot like that.”
In the end, Tendulkar was injured and fell prey to the Rawalpindi Express' shot delivery, robbing him of a well-deserved ton. Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh then stepped up to steady the ship, helping India to a comfortable win, leading me to overhear the ladies in my street talking about how well India batted and how they won it by losing only four wickets.