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Recalling Nissar Trophy, the forgotten India-Pakistan red-ball rivalry of the 2000s

Sarah Waris by Sarah Waris
@swaris16 5 minute read

India and Pakistan last played a Test match in 2007, but Virat Kohli featured in a red-ball game against a side from the neighbouring country in 2008, courtesy of the now-defunct Nissar Trophy.

Some facts about the tournament would leave you surprised. The Indian cricket team last travelled to Pakistan in 2005/06, yet Ajinkya Rahane made his first-class debut in 2007 in Karachi. The last Test series between the two countries was in 2007, yet Kohli turned out in a first-class match against a team from Pakistan a year later, scoring 197. It was his highest first-class score till his first Test double hundred against West Indies in 2016.

The Nissar Trophy, named after former pre-partition Test player Mohammad Nissar, was an annual first-class competition that ran for three years, from 2006 to 2008, between the winners of the Ranji Trophy (competition in India) and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (Pakistan). The event was held on a home and away basis, with the first edition held in Dharamsala. The 2007 tournament was in Karachi, and Delhi hosted the one-off game a year later.


The competition saw a number of stars take part. Here’s looking back at the three matches dating back to a decade and a half.

2006: Uttar Pradesh v Sialkot, Dharamsala

Uttar Pradesh XI: Rohit Prakash Srivastava, Shivakant Shukla, Suresh Raina, Ravikant Shukla, Praveen Kumar, Jyoti Yadav, Rizwan Shamshad, Piyush Chawla, Amir Khan, RP Singh, Shalabh Srivastava

Sialkot XI: Imran Nazir, Majeed Jahangir, Shahid Yousuf, Mansoor Amjad, Shoaib Malik, Abdur Rehman, Shehzad Malik, Tahir Mughal, Mohammad Asif, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Khalid Mahmood

Batting first after winning the toss, Uttar Pradesh were troubled by Asif early on, as they were reduced to 23-2, which soon became 121-6. However, once the threat of the new ball was over, the batters got their eye in, with the lower middle-order taking the score to 316. Shamshad was the top scorer, making 84 while batting at No.7.

In reply, Sialkot were all out for 261, as no other batter could give adequate support to Nazir, who struck 124.

Uttar Pradesh gained a slender lead after the first innings, but another fine showing in the second innings meant that the visitors were set a score of 429 to win.

It was an RP Singh-show thereafter, the seamer demolishing the top-order with an incisive opening spell, bowling outside the off-stump repeatedly. He ended with 4-26 in just 9.5 overs, as Sialkot were all out for 112. Uttar Pradesh won the inaugural Nissar Trophy by 316 runs.

2007: Mumbai v Karachi Urban, Karachi

Karachi Urban XI: Agha Sabir, Khurram Manzoor, Amin-ur-Rehman, Asif Zakir, Hasan Raza, Asim Kamal, Saeed bin Nasir, Anwar Ali, Azam Hussain, Uzair-ul-Haq, Malik Aftab

Mumbai XI: Sahil Kukreja, Ajinkya Rahane, Vinayak Mane, Hiken Shah, Prashant Naik, Abhishek Nayar, Onkar Gurav, Iqbal Abdulla, Mun Mangela, Vikrant Yeligati, Aavishkar Salvi

Karachi put up a strong fight after Mumbai posted 623-6d in their first innings, posting 389 in reply. A young Ajinkya Rahane, making his debut in the game, scored a fine 143 to announce his arrival. Kukreja (110), Naik (118) and Nayar (152) were the other centurions in the innings. The hosts were asked to follow on despite their first-innings fightback and managed to draw the game, surviving some initial hiccup to post 174-4 in the second innings. Khurram Manzoor was the star for Karachi, posting 200 in the first innings, but he did not get much support and was the last man to get dismissed.

Mumbai, however, went on to win the game, courtesy of their first innings lead. Vikrant Yeligati was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers and finished with a match-haul of four wickets while Iqbal Abdulla and Aavishkar Salvi grabbed two wickets each.

2008: Delhi v Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, Delhi

Delhi XI: Aakash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia, Mayank Tehlan, Punint Bisht, Chetanya Nanda, Pradeep Sangwan, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma

SNGPL XI: Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Arafat, Umar Akmal, Azhar Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Khurram Shehzad, Adnan Akmal, Imran Khalid, Imran Ali, Asad Ali, Adil Raza

Despite Kohli’s 197 and Chopra’s 182, SNGPL became the first Pakistan team to win the Nissar Trophy after rain ruled out any play possible on the fourth and final day of the match. Batting first, Delhi had posted 134 on the board. Only Kohli reached a fifty in the innings.

SNGCP, in reply, took a lead of 132 runs, posting 266 all out, with Nehra grabbing three wickets. It remained Kohli’s highest first-class score for over eight years.

Delhi staged a strong comeback and reached 516-4 in their second innings with Chopra and Kohli piling on a 385-run stand for the second wicket. However, persistent rain meant that SNGPL were announced the winners, based on the first innings lead.

It ended up being the last edition of the Nissar Trophy.

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