Monday, March 28, 2011

The knockout round

Well, I’m not someone who lives, eats and breaths cricket like other worshippers of this game from India or anywhere in the world. And I’m also not like one of those craaaaaazy cricket fans....who will stay awake like owls, skip meals, bunk office, stand in serpentine queues, or climb over trees to catch a glimpse of a cricket match. But well, an India versus Pakistan match undoubtedly is a big high profile match played between two neighbors, who currently are not in talking terms with each other. Besides…a match between the conflicting nations is like a Supermoon phenomenon that happens once in 15-20yrs. And hence, when a match of this magnitude eventually happens, it creates a stir amongst people, stimulating their patriotic emotions for their country even more. The announcement of the semi-final world cup match between India and Pakistan brings in a lot of excitement and nervousness among the citizens of the respective nations. And this excitement only builds up as the day to the final knockout round approaches.

When the world cup 2011 began and the whole world was excited about it...I wondered whether I lost my mojo....because, the world cup excitement was just not sinking in. But the drab feeling took a somersault during the energetic quarterfinal rounds of the World Cup. Especially the do or die India versus Australia - the world champions - match which I was hoping and adamant that India wins come what may for two basic reasons. One obvious reason is so that we play Pakistan in the semi-final and secondly, to watch the over confident Aussies pack up even before entering the semi-final round for the first time ever. Except of course, I wished the talented, consistent, and committed player of the Australian team, Binga (Bret Lee) would stay back for his fantastic innings in the World Cup. Even in the quarter final round versus India, Binga continued his relentless fight back even after being badly hurt. And this is called true sportsmanship!

Is cricket diplomacy really required?
So, why all this fuss about the India versus Pakistan match? For some, this game is not just a match but it is more like war, while some diligently use it as an opportunity to build relationships. As soon as India entered the semi-finals and was scheduled to play against Pakistan in the semis on Wed, 30th Mar 2011, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh invited Pakistan PM (Yousuf Raza Gilani) and President (Asif Ali Zardari) to India to watch this match with him in Mohali. There was a hue-and-cry across the borders, wherein people started debating about whether there was a need of such an overture.

Well, many people can say many a things. But in my opinion, this kind of overture indeed makes a difference! With so many failed attempts in the past to strike a diplomatic conversation with Pakistan (more importantly after 26/11 terrorist’s attacks in Mumbai), there was no channel of communication open to engage the two nations once again. The 26/11 terrorist attacks, the Kashmir issue, the Kargil war are continuous impeding points which kept the two nations away from striking a mutual conversation with each other. Well a game that is worshipped by India and Pakistan simply made this possible.

The immediate upshot of the invitation saw the release of Indian prisoner Gopal Dass from Pakistan jail after 27yrs of imprisonment since 1984 over spying charges. Furthermore, the President of Pakistan has promised many more similar releases of Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails. So cricket indeed is doing what nothing else could do! Even if this diplomacy may not be long lasting, we achieved quiet a bit with only an invitation by our diplomats.

The people anyway are excited and simply can’t wait for ‘The Day’ to arrive. But everybody wants to know what’s going on in the minds of the players of the two teams right now. The captain of the Indian cricket team, M. S. Dhoni, in his calm avatar coolly says that they will play their normal game and that this match is very important for the team to proceed to the finals. While, the Pakistan captain, the good looking all-rounder Shahid Afridi, plays the mind game to attack the Indian player by saying that his team will not allow master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar, or for that matter any Indian player to make 100runs in this match.

Can an India vs. Pakistan match be fixed?
In the midst of thrill and anxiety, disturbing claims about match fixing involving the Pakistan player’s seeps in just two days before the match day. To this of course Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik clears the air saying that such a thing won't happen and he also warned his team players to refrain from doing such a thing.

But the question to ask here is whether an India versus Pakistan match can ever be fixed. Will players from any one of the sides accept loads of cash to lose against their warring rivals…I don’t really think so!

Oracle prophesies
Bejan Daruwalla, India’s well known astrologer predicts India’s win over Pakistan. And also predicts India - Sri Lanka final, in which India will win. If Paul the octopus was alive today…probably we would have taken his second opinion to confirm Mr. Daruwalla’s prophesy.

On that note, am praying hard that India wins this match against Pakistan and that the Oracle’s prophesy comes true. Fingers crossed and a short prayer to the almightily is what the nation is doing. There are people who have postponed their surgeries, have gone on leave, and have even postponed crucial plans to be able to watch this match. India Inc. has set up special screening for their employees, while some of them have declared a half day.

Personally, I have no special plans...I simply plan to leave early from office on that day and then catch the match from the luxury of my home. Eat, drink and make the most of this supposedly big day for cricket fans and Indian patriots. Some craziest fans are going to Mohali to watch the match. Reportedly, rooms in all hotels are booked to over-capacity. The big wigs from India Inc., Indian Film actors, and people from the governing body have used referrals and even paid a bomb for the tickets on that day. So this one's going to actually be a power-packed match drawing in maximum eyeballs.

Go India Go....De Ghuma Ke!

Post script:
Undoubtedly…and it goes without saying that I want to see India shining and come out as winners from this big India versus Pakistan match. But in the same spirit, I'm also looking forward to see India’s Prime Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh clap and smile in gusto while he cheers the players from the high profiled and highly guarded stands. It's been long since I have seen our PM do that on camera.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

3 comments:

Pooja said...

Hi Dear,
I red yr article. Its really nice. I do believe that cricket is a beautiful game and v should not make it a battlefield. I amquite exting abt d match, but reaaly fed up with d non-stop BAKWASH coverage of elecronic media 4from last 5-6 days. I dnt know weather this match is scripted or not but if it is lets see how do they script. Ya but d spirit remains d same DE GHUMAKE

Uma said...

Hi Mearl,

Well essayed, I fully agree with u abt the hype created by the semi-final's of Indo-Pak in this world cup, looks like this is the mother of all games in this World Cup 2011.

This match has become the talk of the town since we won the Q/F, whether u are in a public transport or in a restaurant, each one is a Dhoni in making discussing the teams strategy on how to beat arch rival Pak. The feeling I gather is for all practical purposes this Semi-Final is de Final for Indo-Pak.

I think we hv turned this particular match into a battle ground, with passions running high on both the sides. Manmohan Singh’s invitation to his counter part wl only add the icing to the cake. Cricketing diplomacy honestly, I feel it is just a gimmick. I really wonder if cricketing diplomacy will ever work with the kind of pressure ahead of the game. This invitation has more to be a symbolic gesture rather than b labeled as a Mini-Summit.

Best thing for the 2 leaders is to just enjoy cricket and not talk about difference,
Only hope India does not end up losing to Pak on the Indian soil in front of the home crowd.

Interesting to read that our Nostradamus Bejan Daruwalla has predicated India lifting the cup, let us hope so it is indeed true…..

I am looking forward for a thrilling game of cricket, irrespective who wins. Cricket has off late taken a lot of beating with the various scams surfing not just in India, but overseas as well. I wish this beautiful game of Gentleman’s Cricket speaks of itself.

Cheers…….TC……as we watch the match in the comforts of our drawing room.

Uma

Mearl Colaco said...

HI Pooja and Umanath, Thanks for your feedback. Exactly ghumake deeya finally. ;-)