March 27, 2011

Sharda Ugra at the 2011 World Cup

The grandmother of all headaches

Sharda Ugra
Security personnel stand guard outside the team hotel in Mohali ahead of the semi-final clash between India and Pakistan, Mohali, March 26, 2010
Security personnel stand guard outside the team hotel in Mohali  © AFP
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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

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Posted by Anonymous on (April 1, 2011, 15:30 GMT)

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

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by Yasir on (March 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT)

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

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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 !!!

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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...

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