Cricket diplomacy back in action
“Cricket legend Kapil Dev remembers what it was like playing for his country against India’s bitter rivals, Pakistan, when he made his international debut in 1978: a bowler was expected to aim at the batsman’s body,” says a report.
“When I played my first series against Pakistan, it did look like a war,” India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain said during a recent TV panel discussion. “In our time, we were expected more to harm the Pakistani players than win a match.”
“My boys even stopped speaking to each other, such was the pressure,” former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis said. “People dub it a war. Well, it’s certainly not a war. At the same time, it’s not just sports either. It is somewhere in between.”
In order to cope with the challenges, the team is accompanied by a psychologist on the tour.
The same report states, “Some 3,000 Pakistani cricket fans will travel to India, benefiting from a more relaxed visa regime that was agreed on earlier this month as part of a series of confidence-building measures. The teams will play five matches across different Indian cities, starting on Dec 25.” Will such ‘CBMs’ coming from both nations in the near future facilitate resumption of ties, especially when it comes to tourism as well as exchange of cultures?
Focussing more on the game itself, another report says, “This trip probably could have a significant bearing on the future of senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who when on song is arguably the most feared Pakistani cricketer by Indian players. The recent warm-up matches indicated that the flamboyant all-rounder has rediscovered his batting touch that had deserted him for the major part of this year. And if Afridi gets going, Pakistan will win more than half of the battle in India.”
Will Pakistan’s both most cherished and revered player live up to expectations of thrilling and performance oriented cricket?
Also in the news, was Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘off guard’ announcement to retire from One-day Internationals. Would his now missing outclassed contribution to the series affect the outcomes of some of the matches? Although the Pakistani players expressed their eagerness to play him, will it physiologically make them a stronger side?
Lastly, would the PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf’s advice to the players, “Give your best on the field but make sure you are the ambassadors of the country you are representing,” on the eve of their departure, be the key to success both on and off field?