Reactions after Pakistan won the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy were along predictable lines.
Firstly, the chest-thumping of Indians about being a bigger economy, a better democracy and a larger superpower. It's funny how we turn a blind eye to all our nation's problems, as long as we get to compare ourselves to Pakistan. Never will you find an Indian comparing our nation to a European economy, or a Scandinavian welfare state. All our comparisons are with Sub-Saharan countries, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The second reaction was the token appreciation for hockey and badminton, just because India lost the cricket match. This is utterly humiliating, for none of these patriots would be talking about badminton if India had won the cricket match. And let's face it, our knowledge of badminton is so limited, some even think that PV Sindhu is PV Narasimha Rao's daughter!
And finally, the age-old Indian explanation when India loses a cricket match, sab fixed hai. We derive a great cathartic pleasure in calling anything that doesn't go according to our script as 'fixed' and manipulated. It is as if either the entire universe syncs itself to work in our favour, or else there's something fishy going on. For all our stories of development, our attitude towards defeat has remained unchanged since 1997.
It's funny how we turn a blind eye to all our nation's problems, as long as we get to compare ourselves to Pakistan.
Cricket is a strange sport.
It takes up an entire day, sometimes even five. The rules and regulations are quaint, a colonial headache from a colonial party we hosted for 200 years. Unlike other sports, you can often predict the outcome of a match in the first ten minutes of play, the rest of the match drudging along like a Doordarshan telefilm. There is an air of mundane predictability to the game of cricket.
And, Pakistan is the only team that shatters this unpredictability.
Pakistan cricket is embroiled in the worst scandals — match fixing, spot fixing, terrorism — you name it, they've seen it. Their fielding matches the high standards shown by Swami and friends in Malgudi Days, and their post-match conferences are now cliches in stand-up comedy shows.
And yet, cometh the hour, and Pakistan rise up like a transformed Transformer. Suddenly, a team that looks like stoned schoolboys plays like their life depends on the match. Pakistan brings in a certain edginess, a joie de vivre to the sport, that depresses you in the beginning, but makes you smile the next morning.
And yet, cometh the hour, and Pakistan rise up like a transformed Transformer. Suddenly, a team that looks like stoned schoolboys plays like their life depends on the match
In the 1990s, India and Pakistan stood at par in cricketing standards — some would even argue that Pakistan was a better side back then. However, the benefits of globalisation, and a cricketing board that rose from the ashes of match-fixing have resulted in the Indian team becoming a predictably good side.
The BCCI organises tours and tournaments to suit its own schedule. It wields so much clout in world cricket, ICC could as well stand for Indian Cricket Council. In ten years, we have gone from underdogs to over-tigers. The most inexperienced cricketer in the Indian team, Kedar Jadhav, has spent eight years rubbing shoulders with the likes of AB de Villiers, Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is the poorer brother in a Manmohan Desai film. Since the unfortunate attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009, there have been no international tournaments played at home. Some of the players in the final had played 7 or 8 ODIs and one Test match, lacking match practice and experience. There is a joy in watching them upset the strongest cricketing side in the world.
Some of the players in the final had played 7 or 8 ODIs and one Test match, lacking match practice and experience. There is a joy in watching them upset the strongest cricketing side in the world.
Keeping jingoism aside — well played, Pakistan!
It was a joy to lose to your cricket team. To a spirited, young side that has nothing but its passion and superhuman talent to bank on. Maybe this was a jolt Indian cricket needed. Maybe this will bring the fizz back into India-Pakistan encounters.
While we are at it, can we stop those ridiculous baap-beta jokes, and the unfunny mauka-mauka videos, please?