Well done, Pakistan!

Well done, Pakistan!

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

SINCE the eighteenth century, and until very recently in the ponderous cycle of history, Great Britain, when the misnomer “great” actually applied, held among its various possessions a very large colony to the East. In due time, a large portion of this colony gave birth to three nations; India and Pakistan first, and finally an entity that later came to be known as Bangladesh.

The first two countries gained their independence in the late forties of the last century. Bidding adieu to the departing English amid a lot of pomp and ceremonial handover symbolic of the Hong Kong good-byes of recent times, but with an extra dose of violence and mayhem thrown in as a result of intermittent sectarian conflicts, these two nations quickly set about patterning their national anthems and their flags.

While their people were peas from the same pod, the two governments did not always see each other in favorable light and two wars were fought, spurred in great part by the unresolved issue of the Kashmiri people who had been promised the right to decide on their own fate. The third nation came into being in the seventies as a result of the first two getting into a fight. And India and Pakistan have not always liked each other much since.

Pakistan in recent years has been erroneously maligned as a “failed state,” or a “hotbed of terrorism”. It has been accused by India of illegal military excesses along the border. Pakistanis have a never-ending issue with the ethics exercised by their elected leaders. They have suffered under military rule. Their only outlet of relief, their national cricket team, weak and besot with ethical issues, has been reduced to playing on foreign soil while the Pakistani public remained denied of seeing games in their own stadiums. And as in India, cricket is a religion among the masses and nothing draws more attention to more than a billion and a half people than a cricket match between Pakistan and India.

And that’s exactly what happened recently in the Champions Trophy 2017 which was held in England. Eight teams made it to the finals, with the Pakistanis judged to be the weakest of the lot, while India was a strong contender to lift the Champions Cup.

By a panoramic stretch of imagination, cricket — a gentleman’s sport — is not unlike the game of baseball. The object is to score plenty of runs while limiting the opposition to a few. While there are no shortstops or center-fielders, there are slips, gullies, silly mid-ons and the like, all of whom are purposely dedicated to prevent the forward progress of the ball as it leaves the batter’s bat.

In the first qualifying game of the tournament between the two teams, the results lived up to expectations as India railroaded Pakistan and walked away with bragging rights and a victory of more than 120 runs. The Indian crowd really got going into orgasmic dithers over their team when the Pakistani batsmen were cheaply and rapidly dismissed and sent off packing to their dressing room. Pakistan’s inept fielding on the field and their choice of poor shots once again earned them the “loser” tag.

The Pakistanis must have done a lot of soul-searching and practice before the start of the next qualifying games. It was reflected in their unity and poise on the field. Team after team succumbed to the weakest team in the tournament and Pakistan found itself in the finals, with only the mighty India in its way. The results were a foregone conclusion. India would once again whip up this hapless team who was just lucky to have made it so far.

The stage was set for Mother India to celebrate. Visions of colorfully painted elephants, garlands of jasmine flower, and sweets of laddoo raced through the spectators’ minds. In millions of homes across the Indian sub-continent, wives were quickly sent scurrying into kitchens to prepare Gajar ka Halwa laced with almonds and silver foil or other such delicacies!
The Pakistanis started at the bat first, and in a complete departure from their style of plodding painfully for runs, they became swashbucklers with the blade and posted a respectable score for the Indians who have climbed higher mountains in the past.

Events took a nasty turn for the Indians right from the start as a chink was exposed in their batting armor, and the Pakistanis quickly went to work at it. Batsmen fell at steady intervals. While the Pakistani crowd exhorted their team onward, the eerie and sudden silence in the stadium from the Indian spectators was a sign of impending trouble. The Indians watched on helplessly as their team failed them. The Pakistanis were the enemy, and yet here they were… arrogantly marching toward victory. This was not the anticipated scenario.

And toward victory they did. A team that nobody gave it a chance ended up walking away with the Champions Trophy. Well done, Pakistan!


— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena