There aren’t many rivalries in the sporting world that can match the hype and intensity of an India vs Pakistan contest.
What makes the encounters interesting is that the Indian hockey team and Pakistan hockey team share a very similar storyline of success and failure.
Both India and Pakistan dominated the hockey field for decades and then slipped into the cusp of despair with poor performances.
From winning Olympic gold medals to lifting World Cups, India and Pakistan have known what it is to be at the peak of success. At the same time, the Asian superpowers have faced years of insurmountable odds.
However, regardless of their form or reputation, when India and Pakistan face each other on the hockey field, it grabs all the attention.
Having said that, let’s see who holds the bragging rights in the head-to-head battle, which began back to 1956.
India vs Pakistan: Battle for the Olympic gold
The first time India and Pakistan met on a hockey field as independent nations was at the 1956 Olympics final in Melbourne – the first of the many title clashes between the two giants.
Before the meeting, India had already won five straight Olympic gold medals while Pakistan had reached the top four in two consecutive editions but were still to win a medal.
India added another gold to their tally by winning the match 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Randhir Singh Gentle.
However, the Summer Olympics turned into a battleground for India and Pakistan, with both sides meeting again in the final at the 1960 Games in Rome.
This time, the men in green reigned supreme. Naseer Ahmad Bunda scored the only goal of the match for Pakistan.
Since then, India and Pakistan have gone head-to-head in the Olympics seven times. Pakistan have won on four occasions and India twice. One match ended in a draw.
India have won the Olympic gold medal in hockey eight times while Pakistan have three yellow medals in their cabinet.
However, the rivalry did not end at the Olympics. The two countries were often seen battling for the title in every tournament they contested, especially the Asian Games.
India vs Pakistan for Asian Games glory
India and Pakistan have met in the final of an Asian Games a record eight times, including seven successive occasions between 1958 and 1982.
Pakistan have undoubtedly been the better team at the continental event, defeating India in the final in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1990. India were the better team in 1966.
Overall, Pakistan have eight Asian Games gold medals in hockey and India have three.
Between 1978 and 2006, India and Pakistan played several bilateral Test series on a home and away basis. Pakistan emerged triumphant in six of the eight series. India won in 1986 and one was drawn.
India vs Pakistan hockey head-to-head
The Indian and Pakistan hockey teams have faced each other 178 times since their first meeting at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics final. Pakistan currently lead the head-to-head record with 82 wins while India have won 64 times. The remaining 32 matches have ended in a draw.