The world cup is over and India has lifted the trophy. It’s the first time in history that a host nation has won the world cup.
Anyways we wanted to do an article on how we add “Masala” to India Pakistan matches.
It is the second last ball of the last over. This match between India and Pakistan at Mohali has been nerve wrecking throughout. Shahid Afridi is facing in this all important encounter where Pakistan needs just one run to win as the scores are leveled. The Indian fielders have all moved into the circle to save the one. In comes the Indian pacer; the batsman watches wearily; the bowler releases the ball; the batsman swings, making contact; the fielders run desperately to reach the ball… but unsuccessfully. One run, Pakistan have won. They win by 4 wickets!
No, I am not delusional. This is obviously not how the 2011 semi-final between Pakistan and India went down. We all know that by now. Pakistan lost that match by 29 runs. This is how the last ball at Mohali was played between the two rivals in 2007.
It is one of the greatest rivalries in sport history, Pakistan versus India in cricket. It is so huge that during the last week there was hardly any news in the media that received more attention than the much awaited encounter. Both countries seemed completely fixated until the winner was finally decided.
In a way, the hype has not yet died down. People are still talking about what should have happened, when the power play should have been taken, how catches win matches. Oh and don’t forget the biggest claim: the match was fixed! Rumor has it that this time it was done at the state level; at least that’s how former wicket keeper Zulqernain Haider sees it. Hmmm…?
Even after the match, I was still receiving text messages related to it. One went:
“Oh Allah! Please direct all the prayers for the team that were made yesterday to my grandfather.”
Of course, the fact that this was a world cup cricket semi-final made this match all the more important, but being an avid follower of cricket from the sub-continent I know that people are always excited about a Pakistan versus India match. Believe it or not, but it has been estimated that an India versus Pakistan cricket match attracts up to a hundred million television viewers!
This rivalry is in part fueled by the political and regional tensions that have dogged both countries since they parted ways in 1947, and partly by the fact that we, the people of both countries, are an emotional lot and stake our pride on the bat.
The political scenario and the wars fought between the two countries eventually leave it to the cricket field to decide who is better; period.
The match made every one of us a top notch analyst. The media, adding fuel to fire, extrapolated the charged atmosphere exponentially. And the best thing about it is that we loved every moment of it!
We were filled with pride when we heard how the Pakistani team was practicing on black marble to pound Indian bowlers, or with anxiety when we heard that Sachin is on the verge of making his 100th century and this might be just the match where he achieves this magnificent feat. We thrived on the added spice.
Media aside, news about the match being fixed was further fueled when bookies from both sides claimed that the match was fixed in favor of the opposing country’s team.
However, the fact of the matter is that it was an extraordinary match played in an electrifying atmosphere that brought both countries to a standstill. Literally!
There were big screens and projector setups in each and every colony. In some areas streets were blocked to screen the match. Mosque’s were full during the afternoon prayer before the start of the match (although the number of faithful died down visibly during the match). There were tall claims by young lads about how they prayed two times today for Pakistan to win. Win or not, post-match people emptied rounds after rounds of ammunition in the air. God knows what that was for? To vent frustration maybe!
Some people might think that companies giving employees a half day off was going a bit overboard, but what would they say about the fact that the Agha Khan hospital let all its employees (who were not related to inpatient functions) leave at 1 p.m.? All clinics were cancelled, minimal administration staff was present, and the match was being screened in their auditorium, where the DJ scratched a disk with a patriotic song during each break.
What was even funnier was that Geo Super (a leading sports channel) animated its logo into a praying pose every time the Pakistan team was in a crunch situation and as soon as a four was hit or a wicket taken the logo turned into a bhangra dancing maniac.
The cricket madness was not just limited to the media or the fans. Politicians from both sides jumped on the bandwagon as well, the most prominent act being the Indian prime minister’s invitation to his Pakistani counterpart to watch the match live at Mohali, which the Pakistani PM accepted wholeheartedly. Both watched the whole match side by side. (Oh, by the way India, as a gesture of goodwill, please keep our P.M.!)
Whatever the outcome, the atmosphere was nothing short of a war! It was as they claimed the mother of all matches and the final before the final.