Sunday, June 15, 2008

Youngistan and perils of losing to Pakistan on cricket field

By John Cheeran
Now that India has lost to Pakistan in the final of Kitply Cup by 25 runs we can all forget that limbering up in Mirpur, and now look forward to another round of skirmishes. Yes. Asia Cup is beckoning us in Pakistan.
As I had noted in an earlier post, reactions to the outcome of India-Pakistan cricket clashes are lacking the frisson of yesteryears. So, as the case was in India’s group stage victory and now the loss in the final, not many are bloody bothered.
Have we grown up as a nation of cricket watchers? I honestly do not suspect such transformation, though; definitely we are on the road to such a destination. In the first place you cannot jazz up anything that’s happening in Bangladesh. It was pretty much evident from the fact that not many Indian cricket reporters were keen to go to Mirpur, not even Dhaka, you see, in the first place.
After the ecstasy of the Indian Premier League (IPL) who cares for the plywood of Kitply Cup?
As in any sport, occasion does matter in cricket too. Kitply Cup turned out to be something quite similar to the exercise once we had in the Commonwealth Games cricket championship. It fizzled out to the relief of everyone involved in that, including Mr. Suresh Kalmadi.
But in all these, in victory and defeat, India’s captain and hero of our fleeting times, Mahendra Singh Dhoni should heed the lessons of Mirpur.
You should win, when it matters. Dhoni and the youngsters are, of course, unencumbered with the baggage of history when it comes to Pakistan. They are not a generation who were traumatized by the last ball-six by Javed Miandad off Chetan Sharma in the Australasia Cup final played in Sharjah. They were too young to be hit by that sixer.
Today a loss in a final against Pakistan does not lead to the burning of Dhoni’s house in Ranchi. Despite the defeat to Pakistan in the final in Mirpur, not a stone was cast at any homes of the cricketers.
But there is a threshold in the mind of an average Indian cricket fan. Sooner or later he or she will demand more. A nation’s woes that have been aggravated by rising oil price, and raging inflation, will forgive you only up to a point. So that only means losing to Pakistan in Pakistan during the Asia Cup will be asking for trouble. And by that time the pleasant distraction of the Euro Championship will be almost over.
Summer will be harsher. Pepsi sales will (or, ought to) soar. So Dhoni, representing the apolitical Youngistan, will have to drink deep from the pool of lost opportunities.

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