On Wednesday, March 30, Pakistan plays India in the Cricket World Cup Semifinal in the Indian city of Mohali, in a match where more than pride and a place in the final are at stake.
For decades cricket has provided an outlet for the fierce rivalry between India and Pakistan, but in the last two years the teams have played each other less frequently than usual, as matches have been cancelled due to fears of violence.
Make no mistake, on March 30, 2011, Pakistanis and Indians will be out in full force supporting and cheering their teams on, an atmosphere not likely witnessed in any other sport.
The tongues are wagging; there is a zing in the heartbeats and the air has a feel about it. No one could have scripted a match so fitting for this excellent edition of this World Cup. How this one has hogged all the limelight and imagination of billions is evident from the total lack of attention given to the Kiwi’s magnificent win over a self-defeating South Africa.
So clearly it doesn’t get bigger than this one. The media is making sure they don’t leave the golden opportunity to spice up the tension and milk the emotions. Not surprisingly, we are getting very little genuine analysis and logic and objectivity have been dumped for pride and prejudice.
India-Pakistan encounters generally tend to ignite and awaken within us the religious side of things. Numerous prayers and rituals are being offered by citizens of both nations hoping and praying for a win!
The Indians are keeping a vrat (fast) for the sake of the Indian team while people in Pakistan slaughter goats in the hope that God would accept their sacrifices and present a victory for Pakistan.
Thursday morning beckons to be a sad awakening for one of these nations!
On the pitch, the match is an enticing prospect with the quality and variety of the Pakistan bowling attack Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Hafeez, amongst others, will spearhead the Pakistanis, while India’s batting prowess needs no mentioning: Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Raina. Both teams suffered defeats earlier in the tournament but looked impressive in their quarterfinal victories.
Numerous opinion pieces have already been published about the prospects for cricket diplomacy. Having said that, the timing of diplomatic ties couldn't have come at a worse time!
No doubt media reports of activity on and off the pitch on March 30 will go into exhaustive detail.
The Indian media published a report stating that the India-Pakistan match, for all it's worth, is already fixed: Pakistan is winning it this time.
This theory/allegation is misled by a leading Indian politician whose influence in the Indian dressing room cannot be ignored. Farce or not, March 30 is poised for one great evening!
What the Pakistan cricket fans are saying:
Pakistan was given a place in the semifinal as a reward for releasing Raymond Davis.
Reaching Mohali a week before the match is no good; the Pakistani players may get paid off.
Pakistan will win the match because they don’t have sattay baaz(gamblers) in the squad.
The Indian spectators will disrupt the match if they see Pakistan winning the game.
The most blusterous being Bal Thackeray (Shiv Sena) is an ISI agent!
To read more and watch the actual video (not in English) about the match-fixing allegations please visit the links below.
Shoaib Akhtar needs to play! No reason for the experienced campaigner to sit out. Wahab Riaz may be good, but in pressure situations, Shoaib is the man who will do it for Pakistan, rest assured he is also one of the bowlers Indian players need to be wary of.
Kamran Akmal, catch those balls. Enough said!
Good luck to Team India and Pakistan Greens!