Time For World, ICC To Realise Significance of Pak-India Cricket
By Ramiz Raja for Dawn
The stakes are massive, the pressure unbearable and Mohali is burning with Pak-India fever. As if the contest needed more spice, we now have the small matter of two prime ministers catching up with each other at the ground, looking to de freeze the bilateral dialogue over cricket diplomacy.
The world is seeing the power of India-Pakistan cricket. All those people in positions, who were cold and indifferent towards it, are now queueing up to use the occasion to cash in. The governments, the media and the ICC have been given enough evidence in the past also of the unfathomable strength of Indo-Pak match-up, to know that uncoupling the two can mean a turbulent world and a colorless cricket calendar. Yet, all of them allowed the most passionate cricket duel to get stuck by petty politics.
The game at Mohali can have significant repercussions for the players. A loss will be remembered like a tsunami aftermath. On the other hand, a win can, like a wedding video, linger on the minds for eternity. A performance against India is never forgotten and that’s such a strong point to motivate the players and deflect pressure. This game is all about nerves and who jangles them first. The greater the wait the higher the anxiety and it’s been a long break for both teams.
Listening to cricket pundits on channels, calling home to impress the folks that all is under control and filling the fans with high hopes must be taking a toll on the system. The players would be desperate to go out in the middle to settle the racket in the mind and settle the issue on the field.
People fear the Indian crowd and how their pressure will play up on the players. From playing in India I know that the one sided pro India crowd can in fact give you a high because you are fighting them against the odds, and draw from experience the moments when you have beaten them.
It’s such a great feeling when you box them into dead silence, stroke after stroke! I am sure most of our players have sampled that experience and will be motivated to repeat it for their fans.
Captains, at times, worry in normal situations about lack of effort and skill from the team. Afridi will not have any such issues at Mohali. The game gets raised by the players who tend to play above themselves against India. The captain has to remain cool and, in any eventuality, remain dignified. At the end of the day it’s only a game of cricket.
We may or may not win this but our team has certainly won the hearts of the people. Whether they go to Mumbai or Karachi, we need to give them a heroes welcome for they have bonded us together as one!
— The writer is a former Pakistan captain.