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Pak find road to redemption

Pakistan will return home defeated but not bowed. A team that entered the World Cup with a miserable run over the last few months, battered by match-fixing charges against its best international players, including the captain. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 31, 2011 02:21 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Pakistan will return home defeated but not bowed. A team that entered the World Cup with a miserable run over the last few months, battered by match-fixing charges against its best international players, including the captain.

The men in green were virtually made pariahs of the game by the International Cricket Council. Nobody gave them a chance at the start of the tournament. But the way they played and competed on Wednesday, and throughout the tournament, they certainly leave with their heads held high.

Given the bilateral diplomatic status the Mohali semi-final was elevated to, this was the best confidence-building measure Pakistan could have given itself.

At the best of times, even for the most inconsequential games, an India-Pakistan match is always a tense affair, layered with nuances.

On Wednesday, the layers, nuances and tensions multiplied several times over for the World Cup semi-final, which had a build-up over days with issues over visas, visitors and border crossings.

And then the two Prime Ministers sat on the two best seats in the Mohali stadium to watch a battle on the field as sports mixed with the highest level of diplomacy. Add to that screaming fans who had lined up outside the gates hours ahead of the game, Bollywood stars and top business honchos who flew down just for this one game and the additional heat of keeping things in control on the field, given the political significance of the event.

In this pressure cooker atmosphere, India, exceeded all the expectations that the nation had of the team. The country's icon Sachin Tendulkar's ambition to have another crack at winning the World Cup too has been fulfilled, and on the way to the final his team has beaten arch-rivals Pakistan in front of their home fans. Bigwigs in Mohali