Here we were rubbing our hands with glee at the prospect of settling down to watch a day of cricket that can’t get bigger and fatter. And what does the non-cricketing captain of the nation do? He decides to come to Mohali to watch the match from the stands (nothing wrong with that) and calls his Pakistani counterpart to join him.
Frankly though, it’s not Manmohan Singh who is to blame for making a super-exciting match into a super-nervous encounter. It would have been odd, if not rude, not to invite Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani to an India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final match when it’s being played in a Punjab town 239 kms from Lahore.
But with the foreign secretary-level talks having happened and with Mr Singh deciding to not draw a strict demarcation line between business and pleasure, the Indian prime minister is to blame for the media and their aunt to suspect that there’s much more at stake in today’s match than, well, blood-chugging joy and blood-draining despair that comes with victory and defeat respectively.
The problem is now that every Indo-Pak hand will now worry — and insist that we worry with him — about on-field aggression between the two sides that’s part and parcel of the game. So an LBW appeal will be seen as an extra-cricketing hostile gesture and a overboundary as a sneer that goes beyond standard operation sneer in a big ticket match.
So, both sides may be under pressure to win — but with grace, dignity and all those other things that our PM would expect in India’s dealings with old bro Pakistan. Basically, all those things that suck out the life from a genuinely potent and humming game between rivals.