I just got back from watching my first ever cricket match live. Words don’t do justice to the emotions going about the stadium and the hopes fluctuating with every shot. One has to be there to experience it. I dislike cricket, but the emotions surging in the crowd are so powerful that everyone gets swept up in the game – every good shot is cheered and the bad ones regretted.
This was the highest scoring one day international ever, and one of the most thrilling matches to watch. At the beginning when India was going great guns people were really disappointed – they hadn’t come to see this. Then, the magnificent display of batting won people over and they started cheering the Indian side. Some people just outright gave up on the Pakistan team and become whole hearted India fans, if just for that day.
All the India batsmen played so well that it was hard not to cheer them, and sure enough the crowd started cheering on Tendulkar, Gangulay,Sehwag… they would applaud the good balls (though there were hardly any) and the next minute clap like mad for the next four (there were lots of those).
At the beginning of the Pakistani innings, things seemed hopeless with two out for hardly any runs. People started to leave… and we were debating whether to leave or not when things suddenly changed. Inzamam started playing like a cricket god and Younis at the other end tore apart the Indian bowling. The last 30 overs were nail biting, with every four and six getting a standing ovation.
At the end, when India won at the last ball, it wasn’t really even a disappointment. Pakistan couldn’t have been expected to do any better – they gave it their all in the end and the crowd definitely got their money’s worth.
The Indian team got a five minute standing ovation as they walked off the field. It was a pround day to be a Pakistani. We lost, but as they say, it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game, and by george both sides played.
h4. March 16: It’s a tie!
Pakistan “won the second match”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3512160.stm today. It went right down to the last few overs. Just before the end it seemed like India had won for sure – then 3 wickets went in quick succession and the match was won. “Exciting”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3517524.stm stuff…
h4. March 19: Peshawar One Day International
The day before: The excitement for the third match is mounting up. Once again the ticket lines were baton charged by the police – its getting to be a habit now. The ticket sales don’t seem particularly well managed and there have also been accusations of a whole lot of tickets being kept back for the ‘royalty’ of Pakistan. Anyways, let’s see what tomorrow brings…
Pakistan “wins”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3519656.stm “again”:http://sify.com/sports/cricket/fullstory.php?id=13434686! Now I’m hoping India wins the next match so the last one is a real cliffhanger! I was reading some newspaper articles written before the series started, and most of them were expecting so-so cricket, nothing too exciting. They couldn’t have been further from the truth. Both teams seem to be going out of their way to make sure each match is a humdinger… no one can whats going to happen until the end. Someone was complaining about too much tension caused by watching the series. Maybe next time we can invite England for a tour.
h4. March 21: The Fourth Match at Lahore
*20 overs into India’s batting:* India’s still batting, but it looks like they’ve lost. The match isn’t even close! Shahid Adridi got out again under 10… he’s making it a habit. Inzamam has really become a class player with yet another century. These matches are more exciting than any other cricket series I can remember.
“India Wins!”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3552463.stm I finally understand why they all say cricket is unpredictable. India was about to lose, when Rahul “the Wall” Dravid did his “magic”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3555667.stm and won them the game. Another fine game, although this one wasn’t a nail biter like the previous matches. Once again the crowd at Lahore was extremely sporting (just like the crowd at the previous matches) cheering on the Indian side as well as the home team. All those idiots/pundits/politicians/reporters in the subcontinent wondering whether stadiums would have to be emptied because of crowd problems have been proven complete idiots. Anyways, now the series is tied once again, so the final match will be a real humdinger.
bq. Dravid’s calmness, Inzamam’s brilliance, the hostility of Pathan, Akhtar and Mohammad Sami – it’s going to be one hell of a final one-day international, and it’s going to be an outstanding Test series too. If this is what India-Pakistan cricket is all about, well, *give us more*.
>> “Wisden: The thrill of the attack”:http://pak.cricinfo.com/link_to_database/ARCHIVE/CRICKET_NEWS/2004/MAR/102919_PAKIND2003-04_21MAR2004.html
Interestingly enough, a lot of commentators have been echoing the above. Mainly, if this cricket is so good, why not more? A lot more… in fact. One of the major reasons this series is so intense is the long hiatus in between, which hopefully future series won’t have. Even then, considering the amount of good will the Indian visitors are getting it should be a eye opener for our politicians. Its a long proven and implemented fact that there are sure fire votes in hatred, but give peace a chance and hate -will- might just pale into the background.
h4. March 24: The deciding match
The final is going to be really something. No one can say whats going to happen. By god, there’s going to be some serious betting going on… The final will be a test of mental fitness more than of physical ability/skill. Pakistan has Inzi, who never seems pressured on their side – but India have Dravid and Tendulkar, both magnificent players under pressure. The India bowling attack is pedestrian compared to the apparent talent in the Pakistani side, but one side works hard and bowls better than their inherent talents while the other more gifted side seems to solely rely on their god-gifted abilities to pull through. Hard work? No none of that… the Pakistan team had only a two week training camp. The few glimpses of the ‘training’ which I saw on TV fall far below any international standards. Bring a Australian professional to review the Pakistani teams training and fitness – he won’t even charge a fee as their isn’t anything to review.
*India’s Batting*: 14 overs into the match and Tendulkar is out. Today was his day to shine. Whoever wins the match today for the winnind side is going to be real hero. It’s now 18 overs into the match and things are going along sedately. I take that back. Its the 26th over and things have been going really smoothly for the Indians. We’re now looking at 300 plus for sure. To watch the match unfold live, see “the BBC’s live scorecard”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sol/shared/bsp/hi/cricket/statistics/scorecards/pakistan_v_india_one_day_international_series_pakistan_v_india/7192/html/scorecard_hi.stm or “Cricinfo’s ball by ball commentary”:http://www.cricinfo.com/db/NEW/LIVE/frames/IND_PAK_ODI5_24MAR2004.html. Ironically, India has made exactly the same score, 293, which Pakistan made in the previous match. India succesfully chased that target.
*Pakistan’s Batting:* Doesn’t look very good at the beginning of the match. Doesn’t look good throughout the match. All the other four matches were exciting but the final is not even close.
India “wins”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/3560055.stm! And so it ends.
*Update:* Probably the most important thing about the matches was the amount of goodwill they generated. It’s suprising how in this day and age people still hold irrational grudges against other people – but at least some of them are shedding their fears.
bq.. LAHORE, Pakistan, March 24 – When Deepak Sapra, 29, and his wife, Ipsita, 25, crossed the Indian border to watch the final one-day cricket match of the series between India and Pakistan, they hardly expected a warm welcome.
Their apprehension was not unwarranted. …But to their surprise, the Sapras found Pakistan and its people hospitable instead of hostile. “People are so warm and friendly here,” said Mr. Sapra, a management professional from Hyderabad, India, as he stood outside the cricket stadium here. “It has been an amazing experience.”
>> “NYTimes: At Cricket Matches, Indians and Pakistanis Cheer for Friendship”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/28/international/asia/28CRIC.html?ex=1395810000&en=1cb14ac720ad9a2b&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND
p. An email from Sai Nagesh, CEO of Indian company Mindshare, after his visit to Pakistan for the 1st One Day match:
bq.. Folks, this mail has nothing to do with work. Just wanted to share certain very overwhelming experiences. Had been to Karachi for the 1st One Dayer on Saturday.
1.. Imagine 39,990 Pakistanis & 50 of us Indians cheering lustily ‘for’ each other, throwing chocolates at us!! Quite a few were carrying the flags of both countries imaginatively stitched together. Then they all stood to give a standing ovation to the Indian cricket team!
2.. Guy on the street selling ‘bhuttas’ refused to accept money saying that we were ‘mehmaan’ in their country!!
3.. People rushing to shake our hands on the streets & asking us to come to their home for dinner
4.. Restaurant owners refusing to accept the bill payment after coming to know that we were from India
5.. Everybody we met & we met quite a few, had some relative staying in India.
6.. Star Plus is the most favourite channel in Karachi
7.. Shops gave us 40 to 50% discount ………..India again
8.. Taxis, autos, army guys……the list is endless…….everywhere loads of courtesy, respect…..more than we would get in our own country!!!!!
It is really sad that we have an impression of that country that is so negative (All those impressions were created by politicians!!!!). I shudder to think of the plight of Pakistanis who would come to India when the Indo-Pak matches will happen here. Sad, that we consider ourselves ‘secular’ & yet will spare no thought before making negative statements on that country. It’s sad but true, this experience teaches one that……”Perception is not reality”. Thank u for sparing your time. Have a lovely day.
p. More impressions of Pakistan:
bq. As I watch the second test match currently being played between India and Pakistan in Lahore, I recall the city I experienced when I went for the 5th and final one day international (ODI) recently. We may have won the ODI series but the Pakistanis beat us hollow with their gracious manners and customs. Though my friends and I had gone there with a lot of trepidation, *each one of us has come back as a self-appointed ambassador for the people of Pakistan*.
>> “The Financial Express: Wanderer In Lahore”:http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=56599 via “pakistani perspective”:http://www.pakp.com/
h4. India Pakistan Cricket Links
_links to the the 2004 India Tour of Pakistan_
* “Cricinfo: India in Pakistan”:http://www.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/2003-04/IND_IN_PAK/
* “BBC – India-Pakistan Cricket Series”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/default.stm
* “Sirify – India Pakistan tour page”:http://sify.com/sports/cricket/indiavspakistan/