In modern day mind games take a precedence over field games. This is especially true for a high profile game between arch rivals India and Pakistan like the recent World Cup round robin fixture between the two sides.
Notwithstanding India’s enviable 7-0 record against Pakistan in World Cup, given the unpredictable brilliance of Pakistani side (the other day only they defeated the strongest contender for the cup and the host country England), the game created euphoria amongst the people of two nations. There were war cries on social media, sarcastic pre match videos (remember spoof on Abhinandan by Pakistan and Abbu thing by India) and all round predictions and speculations that gave a larger than life aura to the game. It’s another thing that the game ultimately proved to be a damp squib with Pakistan surrendering rather meekly to a fitter and more clinical India, making it 8-0. However, the noise refused to die days after the match, with Pakistani cricketers coming under fire from their own supporters and angry exchange of barbs between Pakistani starlet Veena Malik and our very own, Sania Mirza, Shoaib Malik’s wife. The tournament is still in its early stages and clarity on final 4 qualifiers still some distant away; let India and Pakistan don’t start behaving like having won or lost the World Cup but focus on the remaining games.
The trigger for this blog came from beautiful piece by Pakistani journalist Jawed Naqvi that originally appeared in Pakistan’s popular daily Dawn but has been republished by Asian Age in arrangement with Dawn. It talks about Pakistan’s tour of 1960 when Fazal Mahmood and Nari Contractor led Pakistan and India respectively. The tour that dated much closer to one of the bitterest partitions, was played in much better atmosphere and much lesser rancour with each team displaying respect for the rival. The article further deals with the controversy around night out by the players on the eve of the match (the other great Sarfaraz, fast bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz picked up 3 Indian wickets the next day after partying up to late hours the previous night), Indian actress Reena Roy being fondly addressed as Bhabhiji by Pakistani supporters, her husband Mohsin Khan being Jijaji for Indians that was way different from today’s Sania Shoaib relationship, insights out of radio commentary by commentators of the stature of Melville D’Mello that was far more interesting than TV commentary of today etc, which makes it a very interesting read. The writer in the end laments that the joy and bonhomie that was visible earlier was totally missing at Old Trafford.
While passion for the game is a direct function of our interest in Cricket and our reaction to Pak- India fixture probably gets compounded by the ground realities between our two countries, we must appreciate the position of players and pressure on them to perform and at the end should treat game like a game and nothing more! Let’s focus on Virat and his brave hearts lifting the cup rather than entering into rancour filled exchange of barbs with Pakistanis on Twitter!