A stunning victory (Daily News Editorial)
Pakistan stunned the cricketing world by dumping arch rivals India to lift the ICC Championship Trophy to riotous scenes at the London Oval on Sunday. Even it’s most ardent fan would not have bet his money on a Pakistani victory going by its poor record against India in recent times and especially given its performances in the earlier games in the tournament. On the other hand, India was on a roll (though it lost to Sri Lanka) routing Pakistan in the group stage and all set to deliver the killer punch on the big day, or so it was thought. Hence it is no exaggeration to say the feat achieved by Pakistan would have caused much heartburn to the millions of Indian fans who treat their cricketers as virtual demi-gods. (These Indians like our Sri Lankans worship, salute and respect even the murderers and thieves. Pakistan is no better. However this victory for Pakistan is a lesson for the Indian arrogance and deception -TW)
The victory was reminiscent of the one achieved in 1992 when Pakistan virtually came from behind to beat England in the World Cup final in Melbourne, Australia, under the legendary Imran Khan. On that occasion too the Pakistanis were written off as ‘no hopers’ after being thrashed in the earlier round of matches before staging an almost miraculous comeback to lift the trophy in the final. Virat Kohli, no doubt, would have rued the couple of no-balls bowled by his front line bowler, if otherwise, would have dismissed the eventual centurion who gave Pakistan a flying start. But that is how the game goes.
Sunday’s feat would have been doubly significant for the Pakistani cricketers whose country was a no go zone for other test playing nations and had to be content to playing matches in the Middle Eastern deserts all these years since the terrorist attack on the bus transporting the Sri Lankan team members in March 2009. What is more, Pakistan was given the cold shoulder by India refusing to play even at this third country venue due to the increasing political tensions between India and Pakistan, centred on the Kashmir issue, making the victory that much sweeter for the Pakistanis. Another man who must be the happiest at the achievement no doubt will be the Pakistan’s South African born coach Mickey Arthur who was shabbily treated by the Australian cricket authorities by terminating his contract for taking disciplinary action against some of the Australian cricketers during their tour to India a couple of years ago. It appears that those scorned against had prevailed in the end.
Any cricketing encounter between India and Pakistan is fraught with tension and stakes are high to achieve victory by either side, the hostility naturally having its genesis in the bifurcation of India, giving birth to the nation of Pakistan. There have been attempts to mend fences by way of cricketing diplomacy by leaders of both countries, given the popularity of the game with the public. During the 2011 World Cup hosted by India then Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani visited India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Sing to witness the encounter between Indian and Pakistan.
It is hoped that Sunday’s victory by Pakistan would see a reversal of its cricketing isolation by India. We say this because there is no better electrifying rivalry than when the two old foes meet on a cricket field. The revival of the encounter between the two sides could be the best thing that can happen to the game of cricket which has been losing some of its lustre in recent times. The meeting of the two sides could also help the thawing of relations on the political front and keep the cricketing fans of both countries focused on the game rather than dwell on their historical rivalry wherein the two countries had fought three wars.
Sri Lanka could make common cause with Pakistan in that both sides beat the mighty Indians in the tournament which no doubt is going to make a not inconsiderable dent in the invincibility enjoyed by Indian cricket in recent times. The Indian team no doubt is always under tremendous pressure to win whenever they step onto a cricket field. The mind boggling fortunes earned by some of the Indian cricketers through lucrative sponsorship deals, the heavy overdose of publicity given to the players by Indian sports channels have all exacerbated this pressure, which no doubt is taking a heavy toll on the players, with unforgiving fans expecting nothing less than victory. Thankfully, there have been no incidents where the homes of Indian cricketers have been attacked, as in the past, when they have failed to measure up to expectations of the fans. Kohli and his boys, no doubt, must be mulling on what might have been if only lady luck smiled their way. It would do the cricketers a world of good if the Indian media go easy on the players without promoting them in such a manner that raises the bar on public expectations. Cricket, after all, is only a game and should be considered in that spirit, the glorious uncertainties and all that coming into play. You cannot win all the time.