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September 13, 2007

Twenty20 World Cup 2007

India v Pakistan: a maturing rivalry

Kamran Abbasi

The two biggest rivalries in international cricket dominate the ICC World Twenty20 on Friday. When the pressure of national expectations grips players in these encounters, cricket becomes a tortured mind game. No greater incentive is required than the historical landmark that a World Cup battle creates, captured perfectly in millions--perhaps billions--of memories despite the orgy of one-day cricket outside World Cups. An ICC World Twenty20 match should not be any different. Indeed, a further incentive exists as England and Pakistan can dismiss their rivals from the tournament.

The Ashes opponents might possess the longest cricketing rivalry but India versus Pakistan, particularly in a World Cup, must have become the premier contest. The argument is a simple one, it is one of demographics. Cricket's biggest populations will be on edge as their heroes do battle. Consider, too, some internet stats which show that while Cricinfo is in the top 200 sites in most cricketing nations, for all South Asian countries it is in the top 25--a remarkable achievement when you consider that this means company with Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ebay, MySpace, Facebook, and other internet giants.

The conclusion is that cricket matters. It stops work and interrupts conversations. It excites and demoralises . It demands attention and provokes fury. In India and Pakistan you can can be assured of this fervour. Perhaps too in Australia, but it is the English side of that equation that offers only sporadic passion, making India versus Pakistan an equal and unparalleled rivalry.

But it is also a maturing one. Where once these matches were fuelled by memories of war, death, and blood they are now sustained by globalisation, television, and the internet. The current generation of cricket fans has had greater interaction with the "enemy" and has no memory of partition other than through the proud but bitter tales of elders.

Cricketers may seem less mature but my judgment is that fans have matured. We still support our team--often at a distance-- with a passion, however, it is the success of our team that drives us rather than the destruction of our enemy. And that is an important distinction because it allows some levity to enter the millions of worldwide conversations between Indians and Pakistanis anticipating this important contest.

There are, and always will be, exceptions to this generalisation but the angry voices belong to Luddites, clinging on to an ancient and increasingly irrelevant hatred. With each major encounter the passion survives and the venom dies.

Cricket and cricketers have played a major role in opening hearts and minds but one step remains. Australia and England might now play the second most important match in international cricket but they do so with a friendly rivalry that the maturing rivalry of India and Pakistan must learn from and aspire to emulate. Let's hope Afridi and Dhoni, Asif and Pathan, thrills and spills, continue to nudge us ever closer.

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Wilma on (January 27, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

Shoot, who would have thughot that it was that easy?

Posted by A Mahmood on (September 15, 2007, 9:30 GMT)

The bowl out was such a poor attempt to emulate the thrill of penalty shoot outs in football. At least the penalty shoot out is a reflection of the skill involved in football. This is a mockery, its so artificial, and requires a slightly different skill to actual high calibre bowling.

Posted by manish batsa on (September 15, 2007, 6:26 GMT)

You are spot on. With the emergence of internet, fans from India and Pakistan interact a lot now. while there are bound to be instances of petty and hateful remarks from immature people, it has surely helped us know the people from the other side better and make friends. That's great for the subcontinent. And about the rivalry, its simply unmatched.

Posted by Prakash Kalanjeri on (September 15, 2007, 5:45 GMT)

What a fine find Mohd. Asif and Robin Uthappa are turning out to be!

I really would like to see Asif bowl in England.

The tied result may seem to suggest that the match was fought intensely. An astute viewer however would find such an assertion superficial.

Firstly, there was no excuse for India posting a paltry 141 under good playing conditions.

What followed next was even horrendous. An equally inept batting display had Pakistan strangulated and a late burst by Misbah against a bird brained Agarkar almost got them home.

India deserved to win when Pakistan needed 40 odd runs from 3 overs.

Pakistan thoroughly deserved victory when they brought down the deficit to 12 to be scored off the last over.

And after the tie, neither teams deserved to win.

I dont gamble, but I place my money on Bangladesh.

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (September 14, 2007, 23:10 GMT)

What a farcical ending to a nail biting thriller. Still a victory is a victory and Pakistan has proved once again that they cannot beat India in any major world cup tournament, otherwise they definitely have a better over all winning record against India.

Asif bowled brilliantly and this is what we expect from him. Tanvir Sohail impressed me a lot with his wrong foot bowling action and his right arm almost touching his left shoulder before he bowls, he mesmerize the batsmen with that odd action. Reportedly, Mike Procter used to bowl like this! Anyways, with such a good start from Asif and after restricting India for a paltry 141 for 9 they should have easily won the match had they played sensibly.

Imran Nazir's madness continues he probably thought that he can finish the game in 14 overs and send India home. I think he should be given a thinking cap and a thinking chair to sit out and contemplate along with Salman Butt's whose slow run rate and shaky batting needs to be reassessed through an internal self assessment audit.

Misbah ul Haq initially played very slow and then his late assault almost won the match for Pakistan but he did not use his head. After hitting a four on the 4th ball and leveling the scores he should have run on the 5th ball when the Indian fielders were not ready and he could have steal a single, instead he stood there after missing it and hoping to finish off the match on the last ball. He did not realize that he is one of the slowest runners in the team, besides he was so tired that he was almost dragging himself on the pitch to complete that run on which was eventually run out. For the last ball, all the Indian fielders were within the circle and were ready not to give that single and they succeeded.

About the bowl out. Two days ago they showed on TV, the Indian team was busy practicing bowl out sessions in the nets and one would have thought that they are either paranoid or over cautious and trying to be too bookish. But, in the end it proved that when you do something seriously it is never a waste and it always pays back. Malik & Co. had no clue about what they were going to do in the bowl-out. First, after winning the bowl out toss he asked the Indians to bowl first. Its a very common notion and we all see that in the soccer and hockey games that whoever scores first place themselves at an advantage. Malik gave away that advantage to India on a silver platter by asking them to bowl first and straight away got his bowlers under pressure.

Secondly, you don't have to choose your regular or best bowlers especially not the fast bowlers. Because, when they don't run to the full distance, they have no rhythm and obviously no control. Whereas, slow bowlers or spinners can always do better with their short run up. A person like Robin Uthappa who never bowled was used and he straight away put the Pakistani's under pressure. In my opinion, Mailk himself should have bowled along with Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Afridi and Asif or may be Imran Nazir. All you need is a good aim at the wickets thats all, no speed, no spin, no turn nothing. There is no skill needed to break the wickets.

That is why I said, what a farcical ending to a nail biting thriller. Earlier the rules were different and the number of wickets were also taken in to consideration in a tie. Like Pakistan lost only 7 wickets as opposed to India's 9 and based on that the team losing fewer wickets were declared winners. But, the new rules are new rules and they have to be respected. I wonder how much the Pakistani players were aware of that new rule?

Now, with India going on top of the table they will play the number two team from the opposite group meaning, Pakistan has to play against Australia instead of England. And Australia after the shocking defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe are not going to remain complacent anymore and they proved it against England today. So, Pakistan are themselves to be blamed for this debacle and putting themselves in a difficult situation, they don't stand any good chances of proceeding further, unless miracles happen and in twenty20, they do happen.

Posted by Ibrar Malik on (September 14, 2007, 22:00 GMT)

I would like to say something about Younis Khan... He shouldnt be in One day and T20 Squad. he has no talent and no skills to be in those two teams.. he is only Test player and he should be kept only test squad.. i strongly suggest that Younis Khan should be Out of T20 and one day squad.. we should bring under 19 players ...we have really good players there....with lotta potential to offer..

Posted by EAMIRAN on (September 14, 2007, 21:12 GMT)

So much for sensibility. What the fans from both sides saw today was 2 teams competing for most inept batting display. The rivalry was intense but Pakistan won hands down! Not only was our batting inept for the most part, but also brainless.

Butt typifies our ineptness against seaming deliveries, while Nazir and Afridi are peerless in the brainless department.

Posted by Muhammad Asif on (September 14, 2007, 20:25 GMT)

Yaar please stop talking Merit System, its not something that one can implement, it comes thru your routine life means if the people are fair enough in their routine life then they are doing the things on merit unconsciously & if their routine life is otherwise how they can do the things on merit even consciously. Merit or Lack of Merit is a reflection of a society as a whole not as an idividual. Do highlight your fav but don't abuse someone elses fav.

Posted by Muhammad Asif on (September 14, 2007, 19:40 GMT)

Thats the quality cricket not by big names but by the big game. Its Tie right now & there would be one winner at the of bowl-out. But cricket is the real winner today. Thats quality cricket my dear.........

Posted by Ali Tiger on (September 14, 2007, 18:39 GMT)

By looking at Salman's Butt performance in the 2 games, his scoring is very low (looks like he is playing test rather than a 20/20 match) compared to the game format and is putting undue pressure on others. I think we need to rethink Salman butt as vice captain, and maybe opt for Shahid Afridi as VC.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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