Sharda Ugra at the 2011 World Cup March 27, 2011

The grandmother of all headaches

News flash: The Indian and Pakistani cricketers are not having bun-fights over breakfast
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News flash: The Indian and Pakistani cricketers are not having bun-fights over breakfast. The world inside their world is normal. They are getting harassed for tickets though, with one Indian cricketer stating that the only tickets he could provide was bus tickets to Mohali. The world just outside Mohali actually is normal too. A short distance away from the stadium which will host the India v Pakistan semi-final, workers spend their mornings breaking bricks. It is a large pile but they should be done by Wednesday.

Yet, it is not normal, not merely because one bunch of guys in blue will play another bunch of guys in green. The cricketers have suddenly become the bit-part actors in the drama. The two states and their prime ministers have struck. The Indian invited and the Pakistani accepted which now leaves the local hosts worrying about more than whether their sofas and carpets are spruced up and smelling of roses. Hosting prime ministers is one thing, but where the devil can the 50-strong 'entourages' that will accompany each of them, be fitted in? Surely their Honourable-nesses could have watched the game on some giant LED television?

It is a very big match, in a very small stadium and security staff are now on something approaching perpetual alert. With all apologies to the headline-makers, this is not the "mother of all battles", but the grandmother of all headaches.

After Misbah-ul-Haq finished his media conference, 17 uniformed officers of the Punjab Police and no doubt extensions of all civic security teams, and bureaucrats in civvies, met in the same room around a U-shaped table. They spoke in Punjabi, the speech therefore lost on eavesdroppers typing a few feet away from them, but the words that did hang in the air concerned mostly worse-case scenarios: "code word", "bottle-throwing", "traffic", "sabotage", "stampede". An hour or so later, a black Labrador called Rosie came sniffing around for explosives.

And we believe that M S Dhoni and Shahid Afridi are under pressure.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anonymous on April 1, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    dont underestimate indians at any cost not just in sports too....

  • Anonymous on March 29, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    dear jo wilfred, may be because sachin is good in accountancy and consultancy he have almost all the batting records in his name

  • Rajesh/USA on March 29, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    How many times was 'cricket diplomacy" attempted before 26/11 ? Let us just play cricket. Avoid mixing politics and sports ? I agree with a previous comment..since it is a pressure situation for both teams..the team that loses its poise first, when batting. will be staying behind.

  • Yasir on March 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    Brilliant and outstanding. Your article is right on money specially "Grandmother of all headaches"

  • Jo Wilfred on March 28, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    I am not from Asia but I think Pakistan will win. Generally the indian players are weaker physically and mentally. Indians are better at consultancy and accountancy not men of war or play sports

  • Sabih Abbas on March 28, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    This article has given somewhat a brief picture of this whole scenario. But what i believe is the media in both countries should lessen the hype they have created for the match!! Let it be things surrounding the MATCH only and keep away all the talks about the OTHER STUFF!! Youtube in the past 5 days or so has shown quite alot from Indian media and I feel like breaking my TV whenever i tune into a pakistani news channel. Its because the talks have deviated from the sport big time.. Now its about bookies, the fixers and both the medias on front foot, claiming that their players have fixed it against their very own country. I personally believe that the players must not have been able to concentrate solely on the match either. And for us, the people watching the game, we should watch it in the spirit of the game and only pray for our teams success.

  • Ramesh Thyagarajan on March 28, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    Wonder why they staged it in a small stadium as opposed to Calcutta / Chennai / Bangalore ??? A WC SF regardless of the opponents deserves a bigger stage !!!

  • shoaib m on March 28, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Its a great oppertunity for these two neighbours to come closer and just let it be a cricket game.support ur teams but also acknoledge the team who will play better.best wishes for both teams

  • Shakeel on March 28, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    I think inviting Pakistan PM was totally unnecessary. Public from both side of borders, players and security personnel should only concentrate on the cricket match and not political dramas created by set of politicians. Too much media hype has created unnecessary pressure on the players. I hope we we get good game of cricket on Wednesday.

  • parag on March 28, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    just curious why were those bricks being broken... hope noone in the crowd gets their hand to that...

  • Anonymous on April 1, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    dont underestimate indians at any cost not just in sports too....

  • Anonymous on March 29, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    dear jo wilfred, may be because sachin is good in accountancy and consultancy he have almost all the batting records in his name

  • Rajesh/USA on March 29, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    How many times was 'cricket diplomacy" attempted before 26/11 ? Let us just play cricket. Avoid mixing politics and sports ? I agree with a previous comment..since it is a pressure situation for both teams..the team that loses its poise first, when batting. will be staying behind.

  • Yasir on March 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    Brilliant and outstanding. Your article is right on money specially "Grandmother of all headaches"

  • Jo Wilfred on March 28, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    I am not from Asia but I think Pakistan will win. Generally the indian players are weaker physically and mentally. Indians are better at consultancy and accountancy not men of war or play sports

  • Sabih Abbas on March 28, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    This article has given somewhat a brief picture of this whole scenario. But what i believe is the media in both countries should lessen the hype they have created for the match!! Let it be things surrounding the MATCH only and keep away all the talks about the OTHER STUFF!! Youtube in the past 5 days or so has shown quite alot from Indian media and I feel like breaking my TV whenever i tune into a pakistani news channel. Its because the talks have deviated from the sport big time.. Now its about bookies, the fixers and both the medias on front foot, claiming that their players have fixed it against their very own country. I personally believe that the players must not have been able to concentrate solely on the match either. And for us, the people watching the game, we should watch it in the spirit of the game and only pray for our teams success.

  • Ramesh Thyagarajan on March 28, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    Wonder why they staged it in a small stadium as opposed to Calcutta / Chennai / Bangalore ??? A WC SF regardless of the opponents deserves a bigger stage !!!

  • shoaib m on March 28, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Its a great oppertunity for these two neighbours to come closer and just let it be a cricket game.support ur teams but also acknoledge the team who will play better.best wishes for both teams

  • Shakeel on March 28, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    I think inviting Pakistan PM was totally unnecessary. Public from both side of borders, players and security personnel should only concentrate on the cricket match and not political dramas created by set of politicians. Too much media hype has created unnecessary pressure on the players. I hope we we get good game of cricket on Wednesday.

  • parag on March 28, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    just curious why were those bricks being broken... hope noone in the crowd gets their hand to that...

  • Roland Castelino on March 28, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Why cant our politicians leave cricket as just a sport? Rightly mentioned by some of you, its unnecessary headache and trouble for common people, police and armed forces. I like ManMohan Singh. But i also admit..that he is really stupid. Whats the need to call the pakistani President to watch the match? Is it so that after the match, India and Pakistan will live happily after without any problems with each other? What is really going to happen is....the Pakistani President will be very well hosted.....enjoy the biryani and other delicacies provided to him, go home, and sleep well. Pitty the poor players from both sides......hope they just focus on the game.

  • Rajesh/USA on March 28, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    I think the presence of Heads of States is a big distraction. This match is important as dreams and aspirations of a billion Indians are hedged on this. Diplomacy must take a back seat when it comes to establishing India as a World Champ. There will be a time and place later for this. I think the PMs can watch it at Indian PMs residence.

  • V Patel on March 28, 2011, 13:37 GMT

    One think I liked is they invited Pakis hoping bad guys will not harm Pakis and so will ultimately protect India. As far as pressure goes, India will hold on as all word cups games against Pakistan. If you need proof or reminder Search for "Sachin Bharat Ka Pyara" on Youtube.

  • Munwar Hussain on March 28, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    I think Wednesdays game will be a joy to watch as both teams are good teams and may the best win. They deserve to play lots more cricket together as they are full of talent and emotions. This World Cup would be dead if it was not for this game and The political scene, has nothing to do with the Sports. May the best win on the day. Very excited and believe me, every cricket fan will be watching!!

  • Nag on March 28, 2011, 10:14 GMT

    It's naive to say sport and politics should not mix. Sport (like most human endeavours) exists in a larger political and cultural context. Aus-NZ (any sport), England-Germany (football) and India-Pakistan (cricket and hockey) always have a bit of needle about them. That drama is to be welcomed, if there is no gratuitous nationalism on display.

    If anything, the politicisation of Ind-Pak cricket has helped, not hindered the world. Tensions in 1984 were diffused when Gen. Zia-ul-Haq parachuted in to Jaipur to watch a Test match. The iconic 2004 series was an important catalyst to the most peaceful period in Ind-Pak relations (Samjhauta Express and all that). Gilani and Manmohan watching the game together makes it less likely that their countries would snipe at each other from either side of the border. That's supposed to be a bad thing?

    Sure, I do have a great deal of sympathy for the organisers. But Gilani's acceptance of Manmohan's invitation is good for the subcontinent.

  • indian on March 28, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    shekar are u mad? this is the safest city in india

  • Nadia on March 28, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    Well written article Sharda !!!! and yes you have pointed in very common and special directions where every body is not looking .. I believe that the game should remain the game and should be played in its true sprits rather then jeoperdizing it in any/many ways.

    May the best team win!!!!

  • Tajdin Walji on March 28, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    I watch current world cup matches from midnght to next morning. this India/pakistan will be extra ordinary. I pray and wish this match will be enjoyable no matter who wins. Best wishes to all.

  • Babak Humraaz on March 28, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Both teams has tremendous amount of talent and will excel in this game. I wish all the very best to both Pakistan and India. Great nations!

  • rahul on March 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    PLAYERS WILL BE UNDER IMMENSE PRESSURE NOT MAINLY BECOZ OF SEMI-FINAL BUT THE PRESSURE CREATED BY MEDIA AND POLITICAL PERSONS..AFTER ALL IT IS JUST A CRICKET MATCH ONE TEAM WILL WIN AS ALWAYS.....

  • Adnan on March 28, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    I feel that the game is going to be full excitement and the players should play their own cricket putting all the political pressure away and then then honestly whoever wins, no body will be disappointed. Best wishes to Dhoni and Afridi. Allah Bless U Both.

  • Faizan Mazhar on March 28, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    I fully agree with you guys,its gonna be a thrilling match.... The media is turning this cricket match into a war,this should be stopped now!

  • sammsky1 on March 28, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    I think the ICC should have re arranged for this match to be held at Eden Garden is Calcutta. This sort of match deserves to be played in the most regal of stadiums and not at the tiny and obscure Mohali. ELse they should have moved it to the neutral venue of Colombo or Dhaka.

    Anyway, its a hugely wasted opportunity to cricket overs by insisting the game remain in Mohali which has so few seats and gives India a huge home advantage.

  • singh on March 28, 2011, 3:25 GMT

    Pakistan should play shoib akhtar ,,,as he has an phsycological edge ,,but Akhtar is not in himself these days ,,,, and if WAHAB RIAZ play ,,,he will be smashed out of grounds ,,,by Indians .... bole so nihal

  • Raaj on March 28, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN AND ABOVE ALL MAY CRICKET AS A GAME BE THE WINNER. ALL THE BEST TO BOTH THE TEAMS AND MAY WE GET A GOOD GAME OF CRICKET WITHOUT THE HASSELS OF THE COUNTRIES THAT ARE PLAYING.

    DHONI AND AFRIDI HOPE YOU GUYS PUT UP A GOOD SHOW.

  • Stand 4 Pak on March 27, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    nice writn so lets roll the clock and let da best team win.. im sure its big close match .. hope indian crowd show sum support for good shots ( from both team )

    good luck green tigers .... Inshalla

  • Arvind on March 27, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    I agree. THE INDIAN could have invited THE PAKISTANI to watch the game on an Indian population size lcd screen at his place rather than the public's place.

  • Paki power! on March 27, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Well it is media that create hypes but then again you can't rule out media completely as it is an integral and important part of the structure. The two premiere's from both countries gona watch that important encounter which is a positive and welcome move from both countries. I advice the fans from both crazy loving cricket nation to stay positive and enjoy this great game of cricket .My best wishes to my beloved Paki tigers rule the world like U did in 1992 InshALLAH.

  • Aman pal sara vancouver canada on March 27, 2011, 21:11 GMT

    This match, although, given out of proportion lime light(I will definitely prov to you) as for me it is just another match.

    Two very fimiliar phrases of cricket will still pervail "Cricket by chance " however, I however happen to put my faith in the other one," If you hold your catches, you win your matches." The entire show is on Veeru's injured shoulders and the first two overs will cast the shadws of the game. If veeru hits the 1st ball for a fur or six i will start looking for "Gutka and start the prayers." A good start for that particular game woud be two hit for a pair and build the game on a medium rate of scoring but remain consistant. Good Luck men in blue.........amanpal....

  • KEVIN/CANADA on March 27, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    ITS GOING TO BE A GOOD MATCH FOR ALL SPORTS LOVERS AROUND THE WORLD. LET THE MEDIA NOT MAKE ANY HASTE DECISION OR MEDIA HYPE, THERE IS NO THREAT OR ANY UNTOWARD INCIDENCE HAPPENING. CRICKET IS A AMBASSADOR LIKE ANY OTHER SPORT FOR LEADERS TO ATTEND AND ENJOY A DAY OUT. DONT WE ALL COMMEN PEOPLE DO? LET THE BEST TEAM WIN, SOME ARE GOOD DAYS AND SOME NOT THAT GOOD FOR MANY TEAMS. MY ADVISE TO THE TEAMS, PLAY YOUR GAME, HAVE THE SPIRIT OF SPORTSMEN!ALL THE BEST WISHES

  • Patel on March 27, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    Yes,the politicians have certainly plaged this wonderfull event. because of them several hundred common people will miss this game and they will create all kind of headaches for police and other officials.Moreover,unnessecery pressure for the players.

  • Shekar on March 27, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    With all respect to Chandigarh fans, they should have moved the match to a distant Guwahati or Kochi or Chennai because Mohali is too close to the border/Kashmir. The fear of something untoward happening will always be greater so close to the epicenter of conflict that has caused decades of pain to both countries. I do not think the Pakistani fans would mind flying to Karachi-Mumbai-Chennai instead of Karachi-Delhi-Chandigarh if they felt that much safer. I have full faith in the Indian security though and good luck to both teams!!

  • Satish on March 27, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    Media hype should be controlled immediately on the predictions. Dont expect too much on India. In many occassions, it has proven that India will disappoint, when expectations are high. Hence, patiently wait for 30th and watch cooly and accept whatever the outcome.

  • Nader on March 27, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    Good one, Sharda. The game seems to have taken dimensions that extend beyond cricket and impact people beyond just the cricket players and fans following the game.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Nader on March 27, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    Good one, Sharda. The game seems to have taken dimensions that extend beyond cricket and impact people beyond just the cricket players and fans following the game.

  • Satish on March 27, 2011, 17:45 GMT

    Media hype should be controlled immediately on the predictions. Dont expect too much on India. In many occassions, it has proven that India will disappoint, when expectations are high. Hence, patiently wait for 30th and watch cooly and accept whatever the outcome.

  • Shekar on March 27, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    With all respect to Chandigarh fans, they should have moved the match to a distant Guwahati or Kochi or Chennai because Mohali is too close to the border/Kashmir. The fear of something untoward happening will always be greater so close to the epicenter of conflict that has caused decades of pain to both countries. I do not think the Pakistani fans would mind flying to Karachi-Mumbai-Chennai instead of Karachi-Delhi-Chandigarh if they felt that much safer. I have full faith in the Indian security though and good luck to both teams!!

  • Patel on March 27, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    Yes,the politicians have certainly plaged this wonderfull event. because of them several hundred common people will miss this game and they will create all kind of headaches for police and other officials.Moreover,unnessecery pressure for the players.

  • KEVIN/CANADA on March 27, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    ITS GOING TO BE A GOOD MATCH FOR ALL SPORTS LOVERS AROUND THE WORLD. LET THE MEDIA NOT MAKE ANY HASTE DECISION OR MEDIA HYPE, THERE IS NO THREAT OR ANY UNTOWARD INCIDENCE HAPPENING. CRICKET IS A AMBASSADOR LIKE ANY OTHER SPORT FOR LEADERS TO ATTEND AND ENJOY A DAY OUT. DONT WE ALL COMMEN PEOPLE DO? LET THE BEST TEAM WIN, SOME ARE GOOD DAYS AND SOME NOT THAT GOOD FOR MANY TEAMS. MY ADVISE TO THE TEAMS, PLAY YOUR GAME, HAVE THE SPIRIT OF SPORTSMEN!ALL THE BEST WISHES

  • Aman pal sara vancouver canada on March 27, 2011, 21:11 GMT

    This match, although, given out of proportion lime light(I will definitely prov to you) as for me it is just another match.

    Two very fimiliar phrases of cricket will still pervail "Cricket by chance " however, I however happen to put my faith in the other one," If you hold your catches, you win your matches." The entire show is on Veeru's injured shoulders and the first two overs will cast the shadws of the game. If veeru hits the 1st ball for a fur or six i will start looking for "Gutka and start the prayers." A good start for that particular game woud be two hit for a pair and build the game on a medium rate of scoring but remain consistant. Good Luck men in blue.........amanpal....

  • Paki power! on March 27, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Well it is media that create hypes but then again you can't rule out media completely as it is an integral and important part of the structure. The two premiere's from both countries gona watch that important encounter which is a positive and welcome move from both countries. I advice the fans from both crazy loving cricket nation to stay positive and enjoy this great game of cricket .My best wishes to my beloved Paki tigers rule the world like U did in 1992 InshALLAH.

  • Arvind on March 27, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    I agree. THE INDIAN could have invited THE PAKISTANI to watch the game on an Indian population size lcd screen at his place rather than the public's place.

  • Stand 4 Pak on March 27, 2011, 23:31 GMT

    nice writn so lets roll the clock and let da best team win.. im sure its big close match .. hope indian crowd show sum support for good shots ( from both team )

    good luck green tigers .... Inshalla

  • Raaj on March 28, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN AND ABOVE ALL MAY CRICKET AS A GAME BE THE WINNER. ALL THE BEST TO BOTH THE TEAMS AND MAY WE GET A GOOD GAME OF CRICKET WITHOUT THE HASSELS OF THE COUNTRIES THAT ARE PLAYING.

    DHONI AND AFRIDI HOPE YOU GUYS PUT UP A GOOD SHOW.