Cricket World Cup 2011: Afridi to Wagah, Dhoni to Wankhede

Rajshekhar MalaviyaCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2011

GROS ISLET, SAINT LUCIA - MAY 11:  M S Dhoni of Indiasets a field during the ICC Super Eight match between India and Sri Lanka played at the Beausejour Cricket Ground on May 11, 2010 in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.  (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)
Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistan PM, didn't prove to be lucky for his cricket team.

Watching the India-Pakistan semifinal yesterday with Dr. Manmohan Singh, his Indian counterpart, he must have realized that he had forgotten to carry the talisman that General Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf had carried to cricket matches in India.

However, if the Pakistan team are now on their way to the Wagah border and beyond, and if India are set to meet Sri Lanka on April 2 at Wankhede, he is certainly not the one to blame. Nor can Dr. Singh claim credit for India's victory.

The record books will not show the four catches that Pakistan dropped.

They will not show the decision reviews that Sachin won.

They will only show 85 runs and the Man of the Match award against Tendulkar's name.

They will also not show that Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan ensured that Pakistan lost the plot despite Wahab Riaz putting his hand up once Umar Gul had failed to live up to his pre-match billing.

All that they will show is an India victory, even though the two teams failed to deliver cricket of the quality that a semifinal deserved. India won primarily because Pakistan decided to lose the game, even before the game began.

No, they didn't lose it because Rehman Malik told them that match-fixing will not be tolerated and offenders severely punished.

They didn't lose it because he said that all of Pakistan's players were under the scanner of Pakistani intelligence. In fact, even his presence in the stadium didn't bother them.

Malik wasn't a factor, even though he most desperately tried to be.

One reason for Pakistan losing is because they patted themselves a bit too much for reaching the semis, when they were least expected to.

They eased themselves somewhere in the mind, believing that they had accomplished much more than they had been briefed to.

It showed in the way they bowled when Sehwag was batting. It showed again in the way experienced campaigners like Younis Khan and Afridi dropped sitters.

However, there is one thing that has had me confused.

How did the pitch change once Sehwag was out? Until he was on the crease, it looked like a 350-plus track. Yet, as he walked back to the pavilion, it chipped off a 100 runs.


Furthermore, what made well-set batsmen do Hara Kiri?

Hafeez went in a stupid manner, and Gambhir did great damage to his reputation as India's best player of spin.

This was being billed as a contest between India's batting and Pakistan's bowling. Both were below par. India only scraped through, mainly on the strength of their bowling—yes, their bowling. Strangely, also their fielding.

If they had shown the same purpose and resolve in the game against England, the quarterfinal lineup may have been different.

In the end, it seemed like a game that Pakistan wanted to win, but didn't have enough left in the tank after a dream run-up to semis to fulfil their desire. Now they go to Wagah, while India go to Wankhede.

But wait, there is another W in the scheme of things—the two captains for the final are both Wicket Keepers for their teams.

However, we'll have to wait until late on Saturday to know who gets to keep the cup.

My heart says Dhoni—and like a true blue Indian fan, I don't even want to weigh his chances against Sanga and boys.