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March 30, 2011

World Cup 2011

Crushed but not broken

Kamran Abbasi
Wahab Riaz claimed his maiden ODI five-for, India v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, World Cup 2011, Mohali, March 30, 2011
Wahab Riaz's place was begrudged yet he turned the match on its head  © AFP
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Defeat hurts. You feel hollow and broken. You have been let down, misled. Your expectations falsely raised, your dreams dashed. It might be your favourite cricket team, your beloved football club, or your star tennis player. It doesn't matter how many times it happens. A true supporter is crushed, snapped in two. Today it is Pakistan cricket fans. By Saturday night we will be joined by Indians or Sri Lankans. You anticipate that this time you will be better prepared, more resilient. When defeat strikes, you realise you are just as devastated as the first time.

The immediate aftermath, those dark moments, are no time for analysis. No time to relive those pantomime dropped catches or your star bowler's transformation into a gibbering wreck. No time to reconcile the number of lives your team gifted the greatest batsman of his age as he played as woefully as anybody can remember.

No time to consider what makes a man lash a wide half volley to cover point for catching practice or swish a stupid Dilscoop when the bowlers were at his mercy. No time either to understand why a gifted young player would square cut a straight ball from a part-time bowler only to miss it. You probably wouldn't want to dwell on two ex-captains, your most experienced players, batting like debutants -- in the wrong format.

No, I'd forget all that. Instead, remember the coltish left-armer whose place was begrudged yet he turned the match on its head, placing you in a winning position. Remember your spin trio, weaving a spell of magic over the greatest players of slow bowling on the planet. Remember the flash of resistance from the young guns in your batting order. Remember, too, the defiance and the passion of your captain in the face of ridicule, much of it malicious and personal.

If you go down that route, you might remember that your team was indeed broken, perhaps to the point of destruction, only a few weeks ago, brought to its knees by unending scandal and inept administration. You might recall that your cricketers are in exile, on the verge of international isolation. You might not forget that your country has wars to fight on its borders and within them. You might remember that nobody gave your cricketers a prayer in this tournament and relished the prospect of their collapse.

By doing that you might wrench back some nascent memories from the pit of your soul. The horrors of 1987, 1996, 1999, and 2007 will engulf you once more, not just of the World Cups but the destructive inquisitions that followed. In those days you expected success, here, if you are honest, you can't have expected any more than was delivered. That was real pain, high expectations ripped asunder. This isn't.

Your journey will help you wait a while to judge who stays and who departs, though you have a good idea -- and that reckoning will come. Your journey will lead you to appreciate this Indian team for holding its nerve in the highest pressure game of its existence.

Your journey will also leave you with a sense of pride in the achievements of your unfavoured team because, for a week or two, despite the crushing end, Shahid Afridi and his brothers in exile reminded you of the joy and the thrilling expectation that once made Pakistan cricket great.

For that alone, that brief revival of ancient spirit, remember this World Cup campaign with fondness; a success for confounding all expectations. Today, this feels like the journey's end but it must be a new beginning.

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

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Keywords: World Cup

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Meety on (April 18, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

If SRT had not been given 4 lives, the result probably would of been different. Did well, bad luck.

ps: Don't pick Kamran Akmal again - ever!

Posted by Gaurav Durgani on (April 16, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

Lets not glorify the losing team.. the simple fact is that the Indian team overall is much more superior to the Pakistani team

Posted by Ahmad Uetian on (April 14, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

@Akil Akhtar, you are spot on...........

Posted by bilal on (April 13, 2011, 12:16 GMT)

To me Pride comes with Glory. Good article. I sense pity in comments more than appreciation. 10 years down the line the history books will read "India beat Pakistan in WC 2011 semi-final", no one will mention the details. (details r not required anyways) However, this world cup wasn't a contest on the field, it was an auction nehind closed doors. I have played cricket for the past 16 years, but on a much lower level, but I can still say that even Shoaib Akhtar or Lee or even Wasim Akram, cannot force me to dead stop the balls in as late as 37th, 38th, overs, without even a hint of reverse swing. I don't think I need to say anything more. For those who know about cricket (Kamran Abbasi included) we all know that this world cup was a fu***** auction and not a sport. Well no money no honey! Cheers!

Posted by Akil Akhtar on (April 12, 2011, 2:39 GMT)

Tendulkar has proven again that he is not a player for big moments. only made 86 after getting 6 chances, any other batsman would have scored 150 with even a couple of chances. He is technically the most sound batsman but mentally weak that is why he mostly fails when india needs him under pressure.

Posted by Adnan on (April 11, 2011, 22:07 GMT)

This is the first comment I am writing after Pakistan lost. All these people who say it was a great game, good match, well played and so on are hollow words. The truth is none of this happened, Pakistan right from start looked like a team not wanting to win. They had reached semi finals and it was like winning world cup for them.

Posted by sudeep das on (April 10, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

Well written article from you after a long time. All said and done we need to appreciate the mental toughness of this Indian team and its tenacity to hang in till the last ball. Anyone who had followed Indian cricket over the past 2-3 years would agree to this transformation that has slowly crept into their system. It takes time but they are geting there eventually.

Posted by Ebad ullah abbasi on (April 8, 2011, 19:31 GMT)

i love it kamran bahi :) :) pakistan zindabad !!!!!

Posted by chinmay boriwal on (April 8, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

i am curiously looking for a person using "KIWIROCKER" name in cricinfo blogs and articles,who time and again said that india will be out of the world cup in the first round ! also that india is a much hyped team with no matchwinners.blah blah....!where he is now???r u still alive??? come face ...be brave buddy!!!!

Posted by Vishwa on (April 8, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

@ali_a: Please, stop making excuses and accept the defeat no matter whether you almost defeated India or not. In the end, it was a defeat! What is the excuse for the comprehensive defeat against New Zealand?! Moreover, India preparing for a year for the cup is matter of vision and planning; not a sign of weakness. You guys didn't even know who will be your captain till a few days before the cup...

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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