Imagine a foreigner in India who doesn’t come from a cricket-playing country. In the last three days, he might have got the impression that India and Pakistan are at war seeing the battle references drawn to describe this match-up on different television channels.
I have been a part of numerous India-Pakistan encounters, World Cup or otherwise. You have my word that despite my on-field skirmishes with Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal, we still are good friends. We never discuss border tensions or politics. Our chat is generally around checking the well-being of cricketers whom we have played with or against. I have been doing some media work with former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar. We talk about anything, from the quality of KFC in India compared to Pakistan to the hotel he is staying in Delhi, or even the vibrant outfits he proudly wears as a TV commentator.
So, whatever my foreigner friend is made to believe, or whatever my Indian friends make of an India-Pakistan game, it is just another fixture. To each one of you who’ll be at Eden Gardens on Saturday, I’d suggest just go there and admire a young fast bowler Mohammad Amir bowling to Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
Enjoy the talent
For a moment forget which countries they represent, what is happening on the LoC. Forget the issues that are almost thrust on us by various selfish stakeholders, and just enjoy the talent on both sides. I don’t know what Afridi’s real age is, but I doubt if he’ll ever be back in India. Just enjoy the presence of Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz on a cricket field. I’d do. For me, the contest is between Pakistan’s bowling and India’s batting on a good pitch. They will be searching for a proper length to bowl at India batsmen.
It can be challenging if India bat second as the white ball swings in the evening when temperatures dip a little. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is good with tosses and I hope he wins this one and bats first. The other good thing about India is that except for a handful, the youngsters in the team do not carry the excess baggage of losses to Pakistan. This helps as you are not fighting demons within while stepping on the field.
Whatever the result, let us take a pledge that we won’t go over the top. No one is breaking TV sets and no nasty Facebook posts or Twitter battles. No throwing stones at the houses of cricketers or disturbing their families.
Trust me, tomorrow is another day.
Hawkeye Communications/Dinesh Chopra Media
The writer is a former India opener