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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Cricket Columns

A strong Pakistan cricket team benefits all
Amrit Mathur
January 04, 2013
First Published: 00:57 IST(4/1/2013)
Last Updated: 00:59 IST(4/1/2013)

India's misery continues, stunned at home first by England and now Pakistan, a team without marquee names but containing players with admirable energy, intensity and hunger to win.

This is surprising when viewed in the context of the odds loaded against them. While most teams face challenges of some kind, Pakistan's share of woes is much more than others. Historically, cricket in Pakistan has been impacted by crisis and controversy, governance is an issue, with the Board perpetually in turmoil because of frequent changes at the top.

The players are equally unsettled, often at war with the authorities and with themselves. The team is overflowing with talent but resembles a shaky coalition, which has a history of division, dissent and disruption. To such a degree that the issue is not about discipline and team spirit but law and order and riot control in the dressing room.

Making things worse is the security landscape of the country. Foreign teams are unwilling to tour Pakistan and consistent efforts to coerce Bangladesh to visit have yet to succeed. With international cricket not possible at home, money is naturally scarce and sponsor support has almost dried up.

Yet, despite all this, there are positive signs for Pakistan, especially now with the team coming good in India. They arrived as underdogs but have looked purposeful, their performance marked by great desire and commitment. The batting is brittle but the bowling is very capable, more so with the emergence of Md Irfan and Junaid Khan.

There are other positive signs too. The recently concluded Faysal Cup T20 tournament, minus foreign players or spicy ingredients of the IPL, was a massive success, which encouraged the PCB to announce the launch of its professional league starting next March.

Other countries will look closely at these developments because it is in everyone's interest for Pakistan to be a strong, stable member of the cricket family. Pakistan players bring flair and style, their exceptional talent delivers much needed quality to cricket.

India would only be too happy with Pakistan's progress. The gripping contests have re-ignited interest, crowds are back and sponsors are smiling ---so what if fans are a bit disappointed.

The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official.


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