Let the ‘mother of all games’ begin

A semi-final between India and Pakistan is as good as it gets in a cricket World Cup, more so when the tournament is taking place in South Asia. This year’s Cricket World Cup has generated a lot of hype because of this one match alone. Cricket is as big, if not bigger, as religion for the people of the subcontinent. Thus it is no surprise that this semi-final has made both Pakistanis and Indians so emotional. The mood on both sides of the border is full of both excitement and dread — one can literally smell the fear of losing to the other side. Millions of cricket fans all over the world cannot wait to see the outcome of today’s match. In a few hours we will know which one of the two teams, Blue or Green, has qualified for the finals.

The rivalry between India and Pakistan is as old as their respective independence. Relations between the two neighbouring countries have remained sour most of the time since, but there have been patches where relations normalised relatively. Unfortunately, after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, diplomatic relations suffered considerably. Consequently, cricket between the two nations suffered as well. After a long time and a lot of effort [via Sharm el-Sheikh and Thimphu], the Indo-Pak dialogue process has restarted. The Interior Secretaries of both countries met in New Delhi and one can see from their positive joint statement, the meeting went reasonably well. Now the only worrying aspect is that since there is a lot of hype about today’s match, it is hoped that the outcome of this game will not have a negative impact on the dialogue. There is nothing wrong with cricket diplomacy per se, but mixing politics and sports is not a good idea. Despite the bridge that cricket diplomacy is building between the two nations, our politicians should let cricket be cricket and let the game do the talking.

To reach the semi-final of the World Cup is not an easy task. Cricketing giants like South Africa and Australia crashed out in the quarterfinals while teams like New Zealand and Pakistan made it to the top four despite being the underdogs. Such is the game of cricket. It is hoped that our politicians and people will handle the outcome of today’s match with maturity. If India wins, Prime Minister Gilani should appreciate their team and congratulate the Indian side and if Pakistan wins, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should ensure that there is no jingoism targeted at our team. Sportsman’s spirit is what the game is about, and neither side should forget this. – Dailytimes