Many Indian cricket fans do not yearn for their team to win the World Cup title as much as they want their team to win against arch rivals, Pakistan. Since the dawn of partition, there has been a constant cross border and geo-political antagonism between the two countries. But amidst the geo-political tensions, cricket has been a remarkable unifier of both the countries.
In the past, these encounters have proved to be highly emotional and nerve racking, not just on a cricket field but also on the streets. This time, to the contrary, the voltage has run low. As India and Pakistan prepare to face each other in yet another World Cup encounter, the expectations from both powerhouses look faint and the contest unexciting.
Long gone are the days when the crowd would fear the hostile Pakistan team’s bowling line-up that decimated the Indian team on various occasions. The colossal combination of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aqib Javed, Shoaib Akthar, Saqlain and Mushtaq Ahmed are a distant history now, and when one looks at the current Pakistan side, its seems more or less like an ordinary domestic team. In relation to the recent Pakistan versus New Zealand match, Nasir Jamshed remarked on Twitter saying,
Pakistan cricket saw a steep decline in its performance post 2000s, as the side got ransacked by massive corruption, match fixing charges and the intrusion of radical Islam into cricket, which made them focus less on improving their performance and skills and more on miscellaneous activities.
The story of India, on the other hand, has been way different. They have managed to perform well against Pakistan in almost every instance. But recently, the form MS Dhoni’s men are in at the moment, it doesn’t look any good. Even if they manage to keep their performance up to the mark against Pakistan, the chances of them making it all the way is highly doubtful.
India has arguably one of the weakest bowling ‘attacks’ in the world. It cannot be even called an attack; it’s feeble and shaky, lends runs with generosity and makes the most vulnerable batsmen appear indomitable. Every other team has a minimum of two brilliant bowlers who are quite capable of creating an impact on the opposition. But Dhoni is running out of options and at times, his frustration gets the best of him.
Take the squad selection as an example. The very decision of choosing Stuart Binny as the opener vindicates his inability to make strategic decisions. Rest of the bowling line-up, which includes Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin, further makes the team look weary and mediocre.
Perhaps their only hope lies in their batting format which boasts of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and the skipper, Dhoni himself. But of late, even Kohli’s form has dipped and has caused serious concerns in the team’s think tank.
When speaking of Pakistan’s squad, not many names come to mind, which might seem refreshing but this also marks a lack in experience. The only ones we are banking on to deliver are Shahid Afridi, Younus Khan and the skipper, Misbahul Haq.
One aspect to watch out in an otherwise dull showdown is the attitude of the two captains. Dhoni and Misbah have gone through hard times in the past and have endured a certain degree of flak for their defensive approach. While Dhoni has been dismal, both as a batsman and keeper in the recent past and mostly appears clueless when pressure builds up, Misbah, on the other hand, has not proven to be a talented cricketer but makes the best out of his captaining skills.
The only factor that may ultimately prove his worth in this rivalry is his patience, matured mindset and method to captain the team. It is under Dhoni’s leadership that Indian cricket achieved great landmarks in world cricket, whereas under Misbah’s leadership, Pakistan cricket team has found the light, far away from the tunnel of controversies.
The Star Sports ad, which has been caught the attention of cricket fans everywhere, is creating an ice-breaking build-up to the fixture. The ad shows a die-hard Pakistani fan watching the India-Pakistan match in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2011. The man buys fire crackers each time but cannot light them, since Pakistan gets defeated on every occasion. In the end, the disappointed man asks his little son,
“Kub phodayenge yaar?”
(When will we get to light them?)
Could the 2015 World Cup be the one where Pakistan gets to break the deadlock and celebrate or would it be yet another Indian jubilation?
I guess we’ll be finding out very soon.