At the stroke of the midnight hour on 15 August 1947, India gained independence from the British rule.
But the freedom came at a cost, not just for India, but also for its newest neighbour, carved out of its own boundaries, Pakistan. Ten million people were uprooted from their homes and the world watched the biggest human migration, which was also marred by bloodshed and violence. The partition scarred a whole generation on both sides of the border.
The countries, however separated, shared a lot in common. Be it the common borders, the tales of the past, and most importantly, a passion for cricket. As the two nations celebrate their day of freedom, we take a look at the cricketing heroes whom both India and Pakistan can call their own.
Abdul Hafeez Kardar (17 January 1925 - 21 April 1996)
Born in Lahore, Punjab, in 1925, Abdul Hafeez Kardar was the first captain of the Pakistan cricket team, and is widely regarded as the father of Pakistan's cricket.
He played domestic cricket for a variety of teams, including the Oxford University, Northern India and Muslims. Kardar was one of the few players of his generation who played for India in Test cricket (against England) and represented Pakistan after Independence.
He was later appointed to lead the team which would play its first official Test series touring India in 1952-53. Kardar fielded his men against Lala Amarnath-led India. Although India won in Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai) and won the series, Kardar's team achieved its first Test victory in only the second Test held in Lucknow.
A left-handed batsman and a slow left-arm orthodox spin bowler, Kardar made 6,832 runs and took 344 wickets in his first-class career. He averaged 29.83 in his batting and 25.55 in bowling. He played for Pakistan from 1948 to 1952, when Pakistan was yet to receive a Test status. Before retiring in 1958, Kardar led Pakistan to 6 wins and 6 losses along with 11 draws in a total of 23 Tests as captain.
A strong supporter of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Kardar entered politics and served as the president of the Pakistan Cricket Board in the 1970s. His tenure was notable as he backed the representation of Asian and African cricketing nations in the International Cricket Council. He was forced to resign after an embarrassing pay dispute with the players in 1977.
Gul Mohammad (15 October 1921 - 8 May 1992)
At just 5 feet and 5 inches, Gul Mohammad was brilliant as an attacking left-handed batsman and an outstanding fielder in the cover region. He made a sensational first-class debut at the tender age of 17 and smashed a spectacular 95 in his first game during the Bombay Pentangular.
In 1942-43, he scored 144 for Bijapur Famine XI against Bengal Cyclone XI and added 302 with Vijay Hazare.
His most famous innings came in the final of the 1946-47 Ranji Trophy, in which he scored a sensational 319 for Baroda against Holkar. Gul joined Vijay Hazare at the score of 91/3, and in 533 minutes of his innings, the duo added 577 runs, then a world record for any wicket in first-class cricket.
Mohammad made his debut for India in 1946 after playing against England and was also part of the Lala Amarnath-led Indian side that hosted Pakistan's first-ever official Test tour in 1952-53. But in 1955, he took a Pakistan citizenship and played just one Test for India's arch-rivals in 1956-57 against Australia.
Following a unique career, Mohammad turned to cricket administration and was part of the board of directors at Lahore's Gaddafi stadium till 1987. He went on to be a coach for the Punjab Sports Board after his stint at the Gaddafi stadium.
Amir Elahi (1 September 1908 - 28 December 1980)
Born in Lahore, Punjab, in 1908, Amir Elahi could lay claim to two unusual distinctions: He was one of the only 12 cricketers to play for two different countries and one of the 20 oldest cricketers to have played in a Test match.
Elahi played just one Test for India, and made his debut in 1947 against the Australian team. Starting his career as a medium-pace bowler, Elahi turned to leg-breaks and googlies, which brought him more success. In the Ranji Trophy, he took 193 wickets at an average of 24.72 to help Baroda win the competition in 1946-47.
In 1947, Elahi migrated to Pakistan and got the distinction of being cap No. 1 amongst the Pakistani Test cricketers. He played five Tests for Pakistan and his finest hour with the bat came when he shared a last-wicket partnership of 104 (a Test rarity) with Zulfiqar Ahmed against India in Madras.
At 44, Elahi played his last Test match for Pakistan in 1952, where he took just one wicket while conceding 29 runs against India at Calcutta.
Many years after Independence...
Though politics in Pakistan turned its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah's vision of an essentially secular State with an Islamic theocracy into one that is now fully Islamic, Pakistan's minorities, including Hindus, have represented their country at various sports including cricket.
Born in Karachi, Sindh, in 1963, Anil Dalpat was the first-ever Hindu to play Test cricket for Pakistan. A prolific wicket-keeper and a lower-order batsman, Dalpat represented Pakistan for a brief interval in the early 1980s following the retirement of Wasim Bari.
A 51-year-old Dalpat made his debut for Pakistan in 1984 against England at Karachi. He kept well to the spin of Abdul Qadir as Pakistan stunned the touring English brigade by three wickets. In his nine Tests, he made 25 dismissals (22 catches and 3 stumpings) and a highest score of 52 against New Zealand at Karachi in 1984-85.
Dalpat is the first cousin of Danish Kaneria, who made his Test debut for Pakistan in the 2000-01 series against England. In 1983-84 Dalpat dismissed 67 batsmen, a Pakistan domestic record. Dalpat's career did not last long, and he shocked many in the early 1990s when he blamed Imran Khan for his short career.
Only the second Hindu and seventh non-Muslim overall to represent Pakistan in international cricket, Danish Kaneria played 61 Test matches for Pakistan, and took 261 wickets at an average of 34.79. He represented the team only in 18 ODIs taking 15 wickets with an average over 45.
A right-arm leg spinner known for his well-disguised googly, Kaneria holds the record for most test wickets by any Pakistani spin bowler. He is fourth on the list of bowlers with most Test wickets for Pakistan, behind only fast bowlers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan.
He took 15 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket, and achieved seven and six wickets in an innings on four and three different occasions respectively. He took ten wickets or more in a match on two different occasions, once against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka each.
Despite an impressive cricket career, Kaneria will always be remembered as the cricketer who was banned for life by the ECB after being found guilty of corruption in a spot-fixing case. He was found guilty of under-performing in a 2009 Pro40 match against Durham that led to a lifetime ban, practically ending his international career.