Readers September 29, 2007

Comment of the week: A pundit from Pakistan

How a reader's comments can be constructive, expressive and delightful

Furqan mailed in two comments on the Scenes from a Final post which are near-perfect examples of a) how disagreement on a blog can be firmly and civilly expressed and b) how a great contest ought to be celebrated. This is part of the first one:

"I was personally quite disappointed with Mukul's article. Yes, it was wonderfully written, factually accurate and it conveyed some excellent arguments. However, as his first post after the spectacular end to a fantastic final, I thought it was rather sour to focus half of the article on Shoaib Malik's crass comments. There were so many positives from this tournament, none more so than the excellent final, and after the turmoil that has affected cricket over this year I think it would have been far more apt to express gratitude and praise for the recovery of the game. I think any reasonable person can conclude that Malik's comments were in bad taste. I'm a Muslim in Pakistan and they certainly made me wince. However I think a paragraph expressing distate for the comments would have sufficed, rather than the torrent of negativity shown by Mukul and in numerous comments since..."

And in a second comment, he shows us, with joy and passion, how the thing is done:

"Oh, and after my previous post about what Malik said, I would just like to say that I enjoyed this tournament, and especially the final thoroughly. I absolutely loved how after being written off by so many journalists, especially in England (Hello Jonathan Agnew, whatever happened to your English team winning the World Twenty20), it was Pakistan and India that were by far the two best teams of the tournament. Pakistan won every match, except the two against India, very convincingly. India won match after match under extreme pressure in knock-out conditions. Together, we beat England, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and above all, we both beat Australia - comfortably! A match that looked like Pakistan's bowlers were all over, turned around with some fantastic batting by the underrated Gautam Ghambir, decent bowling by [Irfan] Pathan and RP Singh (or 'Rudra the smiling assassin', as we like to call him in our house) and some long overdue pressure-induced poor shots from the top and middle-order Pakistani batsmen. With 54 runs needed of four overs, only 22 having come off the last four overs and only one batsman left, the match looked all over and it seemed like the tournament would fizzle out into 24 balls of anti-climactic cricket. But old man Misbah-ul-Haq, Mr Calm-Until-Only-One-More-Shot-Is-Required ul-Haq, changed the course of the match once again. The Pakistani fans (well, speaking for myself) had hope again, and the Indian fans watched anxiously as the runs required started to get lower and lower with the balls required not going down anywhere near as much. Then when Joginder-Look-Like-A-Rabbit-In-The-Headlights Sharma took centre stage, bowled a big wide and got wallopped for a Misbah special, it looked like there would only be one winner. Jogi bowled again, Misbah crouched down and we all knew what was coming. The Ashraful scoop duly appeared, the ball went up into the air past [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni and millions, nay billions perhaps held their breath. There it was, the ball in the air and the crowd in the background. Is it clearing the rope, have Pakistan won this? Oh yes...oh no, the ball is coming down and it doesn't look like it's going to clear the boundary - a four perhaps, I'll take that!.. oh no, it's not even going that far...oh no, there's a fielder under it, it's Sreesanth, it's out. Pakistan have lost, India have won! Gutted, we were so close but my God what a match! Look world, forget that last World Cup, now this is cricket, this is entertainment! Look at those Indians, wild with jubilation and ecstatic with happiness, look at those Pakistanis, shocked and distraught, look at Misbah, who will be re-playing that shot in his dreams for the rest of his life. What an amazing start to the tournament. Chris Gayle, you finally woke up for an hour and that was out of this world. What fantastic cricket throughout the tournament. Yuvraj Singh, you can forget about that crazed Dimiti Mascarenhas belting you for sixes forever now. What an unbelievable ending, Sreesanth, you must have been shaking like jelly but the ball ended up safely in your hands and how good must you have felt. Shoaib Malik's comments? They were just that, comments. I love cricket. And my God, that was cricket, that was entertainment, that was life."

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi