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Fickle Fans? – by Sindhyar Talpur

When Pakistan lost to India at Mohali, the initial reaction from Pakistan was that of sympathy. It was disappointing loss to arch-rivals, especially after all the hype created. But there was no such ill-will towards the whole team, minus few individuals who did bad on the day. Vice-Captain Misbah-Ul-Haq was criticised the most.  When the team returned, they received a return of a team that has done its country proud. All well and good, bitterness at loss but magnanimosity shown. Indian congratulated, team cheered even after a loss and plans sought for future to remedy the problems lingering highlighted by the World Cup. Poor and passive fielding and fragile and immature batting. Hallmarks of people who finally seem to understand how to enjoy sports and learning from defeat and so on.

But slowly and surely, few text messages, few whispers, few tweets or Facebook statuses and few former (bitter) ex-cricketers alluding to foul play.  With India winning the world cup, all just accelerated in to over drive.

In a way, it was bound to happen. The attitude towards things that matter to us have lately increasingly been that of denial of anything being remotely wrong with them. So be that an Ideology, the idea of ‘national interests’ or game of Cricket.  We deny anything is fundamentally worth revisiting. Rather certain corrupt Individuals are there that are corroding the system from within and ruining, otherwise a full-proof system.

In case of Cricket team it is that of alleged match fixing players, who always make sure Pakistan never wins. It has nothing to do with playing bad cricket on the day.

Conspiracy why Pakistan lost at Mohali abound. Zardari and Gilani actually brokered a deal with India, Mohali match for composite dialogues. Afridi has now quit the team and protest and thus won’t go to West Indies in disgust!

Match Fixing players purposely lost the match. Some bowlers bowled badly, Batters batted timidly and wasted time, and fielders missed sitters. Those corrupt players, would sell their mothers – the indignant statement that has become Hamid Mir’s & Cos favourite quote. Its akin to a person telling everyone he meets that someone once called cussed at him, and then tell them what the cuss was and reasons for it. Finishing with ‘so you tell me sir, ain’t I a M*** F**?’

I may remind here the (injudicious) statement of Interior Minister Malik, which was played around by Indian media and highly condemned by Pakistani Media. Three days latter, same media is doing worse than what Malik did. Malik implied, which could also have been a wry remark. Here we have ‘experts’ literally analysing the events and concluding, as if proven beyond doubt,  that match was fixed.

At no juncture bad Cricket even enters the discussion. Fact that Pakistan had a fragile batting order may be because of Batters in the side either being young, or being out of the team for so long. That bad fielding may be nerves of playing at such a big stage with so many youngsters. That many decisions taken by the captain may be because he just fails to read the game as well as his counterpart does. Simply speaking, Pakistan lost because Pakistan played badly. If South Africa, which had even better record, can lose in a quarter final from a much weaker New Zealand and that can be termed their choking. Why can’t Pakistan with its young players sink on the occasion against their arch-rivals against whom they have never won in a World Cup?

May be I am being too generous. May be I too should join the band Wagon and agree with other people. Shout foul play and concoct new conspiracy theories. That surely would make me less of a gad fly. And when time again comes for a big Tournament, and if the team starts doing well again, find my flag pin, drape myself in the Flag and  play milli-nagmas in full volume. Again nothing wrong with that either. Thats what we do, I guess. We only side with success and if they lose its cheat. For we Pakistanis have never been beaten fairly.

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Sindhyar Talpur

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  • This appears to be an Ansar Abbasi classic: “Conspiracy why Pakistan lost at Mohali abound. Zardari and Gilani actually brokered a deal with India, Mohali match for composite dialogues.”

    LOL

  • Thank you, Afridi!

    There’s a lot to be said about the World Cup, especially our match against India. And it has a lot more to do with Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Gul’s bad luck, and Sachin Tendulkar’s good fortune. Cricket speaks to our nation in a way our government never has. And Shahid Afridi addressed the nation in a way our president never has — unselfish, genuine, modest. So when Afridi apologised to Pakistan, millions listened and were humbled by the gesture. Our eyes were filled with tears and our hearts with love and a strange kind of sorrow. Afridi, you need not apologise to the nation. We are proud of you and our entire cricket team!

    You didn’t bring back the cup, but any excitement, any happiness, any hope that Pakistanis have felt in the past few months is because of your brilliance. We’ve been hearing a lot of ‘Pakistan needs something to celebrate’, but what Pakistanis really needed was something to look forward to. The green team gave us that with the anticipation of each game played.

    The funny thing about cricket is that it can unite the nation through a victory or a loss. It would have been wonderful to go out on the streets and celebrate with dhols, as we did when we won the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in 2009. But even after our loss on Wednesday, the people of Pakistan, in their state of disbelief, came out and shared their sorrow. Misery loves company. Cars on streets, people driving around slowly, quietly, patiently. No honking, no cursing, nowhere to go, nowhere to escape. It was surreal. This only goes to show what cricket means to us and the massive void it fills for our nation. Cricketers, you made us patriotic. You made us passionate. You made us proud. And these precious adjectives are some that Pakistan rarely gets the chance to associate itself with.

    So again, Afridi, your apology is appreciated but not needed. You conducted yourself with patience, grace and dignity, encouraging your own with a smile, and congratulating the opponents with an even bigger smile. You didn’t win the semi-finals, but you won our hearts. Thank you for showing the world we are not an aggressive nation.

    To Pakistan, I propose this: if there’s anyone who needs to apologise, it’s us. So to Afridi and the team, I apologise for the pressure I put on you to win the World Cup. It comes from my own shortcomings. So lazy and so cowardly am I that I am incapable of creating for myself a reason to celebrate Pakistan. Since as far as I can remember, my patriotism has tenaciously clung to cricket. It is unfair. I know.

    To those Pakistanis who thought this was a match between Hindus and Muslims, I’m glad India won. This was never a battle between nations, or a jihad against Hindus. It was a semi-final cricket match, and if a loss is what it took to be reminded of this then I’m glad we lost. Victory would have only made you gloat over something you had done wrong all along. However, if there was one thing I was relieved to discover it was that we don’t hate India. We may hate America, but we don’t hate India. No burning of the Indian flag, no bitter remarks, no threatening reaction. Just healthy competition and a pure love for the game.

    So we don’t hate India. In fact, we hate Asif Ali Zardari. What pleased me even more were the numerous text messages and Facebook statuses I came across that poked fun at Zardari. My personal favourite is, “We congratulate India on winning the semi-finals. As a goodwill gesture, India can keep Pakistan’s prime minister. And if it wins the finals, we will give our president too.” Ahhh, Zardari jokes. They never get old. He’s our scapegoat now. It’s his fault we lost. Somehow.

    It’s time we stopped asking of our cricketers something we should have been asking of ourselves. Or our government. Let’s find ourselves a reason to be patriotic and celebrate Pakistan, and let cricket be a sport, not an identity. If we all just took a little responsibility, maybe our beloved team can finally approach the pitch as cricketers, not as soldiers entering the battlefield. We owe it to them. Welcome back, boys!

    (Maheen Sadiq from Pakistan wrote this article for the Pakistan Defence Forum before the India-Sri Lanka final.)

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Thank-you-Afridi/Article1-680938.aspx