Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Epic Match

So I realize that this is supposed to be a filmi blog, but I can't help it - I've been eating, breathing, living the World Cup these past few weeks, so I must talk about it.

THE match starts in a few hours, and there has been absolute pandemonium all over, the kind of pandemonium that only an India-Pakistan cricket match can create. Ever since it has been guaranteed that there'd be an IND-PAK semi-final - and, well, even before that - it's all anyone has been talking about. One would expect that - the competition in India-Pakistan matches always transcends the sport and goes into the realm of war and politics. Cricket-wise, they're already two teams that can set off sparks when they clash, but you go and add India and Pakistan's history to that, and you've got something else.

For this reason, the Indian media has touted this semi-final as being a "peace" match, a bridge between India and Pakistan. Actually, I don't understand the concept of a "peace" match. Cricket is the one thing that makes us more fiercely competitive than anything else - it is, in a sense, war. It seems that a lot hinges on the result of an India-Pakistan match - a win is extra sweet while a loss is extra bitter. But if you think about it, it's unfair to bring all these years of rivalry and tension onto the field during a cricket match. Why do we suddenly look to our cricket team to exact revenge on our rival? Why should the players have to feel the pressure of the match being used as a vehicle for peace talks between the Prime Ministers of the two nations? Cricket is war, yes, but the war should be limited to the game currently being played. Allow it to transcend beyond the stadium and make the game into what it's not, and we'll never achieve the peace we're talking about.

So, today, try to take the match for it is - a match. Cheer for your team, be hyper-competitive, feel free to make good-natured jokes about the opponents. But keep the match in perspective and don't look to it to create either war or peace.

Having said that, it's no doubt that this match is a biiig one. Both teams want the win, both teams deserve the win, and hopefully both teams will play for the win. It's going to be an epic clash and I absolutely cannot wait for it - hence the reason I'm up late writing this post instead of trying to get a few hours of sleep before I wake up at 4:30am to watch the match.

I'd love to be all diplomatic while ending this post, but I'm not going to pull a Ravi Shastri on you all and say that hopefully "cricket is the real winner." No, the real winner better be India. I'm praying and crossing my fingers for an Indian win on this one, so hopefully the boys will pull through with victory. To borrow a quote from Atul Kasbekar: "Today we won't Go Green, we'll just Bleed Blue." That is all.


  1. Interesting post. I too am hoping India wins, but not out of patriotic attachment to the Republic. I want them to win because I believe them to be the best team and because I want to see the sublime genius of Sachin justly rewarded, hopefully with his 100th 100.
    I ABSOLUTELY ABHOR patriotism & nationalism. The concept of the nation-state is repugnant to me, anathematic, and I'm fond of quoting G.B. Sha's "Patriotism is a pernicious, psycopathic form of idiocy" and Einstein's "Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of humanity".
    That infantilism was on display for me last night watching streamed coverage of NZ/SL. The chatbox on the side of the window made me wish I didn't understand Hindi as it was nothing but a constant stream of India v Pak abuse, and "madar****" would have been church language compared to what was being thrown around.
    That's why I think you're right that the match will be a war surrogate rather than a peacemaker, which saddens me. I only exist at all because of Partition. His family fleeing that horrific violence is the only reason my Anglo-Indian father (born in Meerut UP, hometown Quetta, real home boarding school here ) ended up in NZ at all.
    So I could say that "my team" can't lose, since my Dad's birthplace grants me the right to OCI, while his 'roots' are in what is now Pakistan. But I am sad that crores of people who speak mutually intelligible languages and whose food and cultures reflect centuries of shared heritage let themselves be divided by lines drawn on a map barely 60 years ago. My extreme hatred of and contempt for patriotism is odd to my desi friends, most of whom seem to have imbibed the spirit of "Jai Hind" in their mother's milk, and am glad that I was born and raised in one of the least patriotic countries on Earth, making it easier for me to have no attachment to the nation-state that issued my passport.
    I really just want this game to be a celebration of the subcontinent's unfying religion, cricket. I'm worse at cricket than I am at carom, but I'll paraphrase a favourite line from Munnabhai MBBS - cricket khelo, juice piyo

  2. I really liked this thoughtful post. Nothing exists in vaccum I guess and people are really bad at compartmentalising things - when emotions are running high they tend to spill over to every other aspect of life. Unfortunately what makes cricket so awesome, the passion of certain countries, is also what ends up sometimes making it ugly off the playground...

  3. Max - (Ugh, I wrote up a long comment and then Blogger ate it. Trying to remember what I said now.)

    GREAT post. You totally showed my ramblings up with your insightful comments. ;)

    I would consider myself patriotic to a degree, but I understand what you're saying. Patriotism is by no means an excuse for the abuse being thrown around. When patriotism is taken too far, it totally ruins the spirit of the game. Yes, competition is a vital part of cricket, but when we make a match to be what it is not (exacting revenge), it takes away from the game.

    Yep, my family's roots are in what is now Pakistan as well.

    Well said! We have so much in common - culture, food, etc. - but we always tend to look to cricket as the unifying factor. Like I said above, when we make the game into what it's not, we're actually creating war instead of peace. If we take a match as a match, we're much better able to enjoy it peacefully and unite because of our love for the game.

    That being said, I absolutely loved this match in terms of the spirit. The war was on the field and that was that; the competition seemed to evaporate after the match was over and that is exactly how it should be. There was no sledging, the boys didn't look like they had it out for each other, and Afridi was completely graceful in his loss. It was heartening to see and full respect to both the teams for behaving in such a dignified manner.

  4. Parul - Thanks! And I fully agree with you. It's hard to separate the two because we have been conditioned to think of matches (especially IND-PAK matches) in this way. It's what makes the game extra exciting, no doubt, but it seems so counter-productive to me when we act like that while simultaneously talking about peace.

    But like I said in the comment above, I think this match was lovely in terms of the spirit. Both teams handled themselves in a completely dignified manner and I hope their behaviour rubs off on the nations.

  5. Yes, I did a lot of reading on it while watching Sachin give the Pakistanis fielding practice last night, and it really seems like the two teams are great ambassadors for their sport as peacemakers. Professional and friendly with a mutual respect and understanding of what's involved. Well done to both teams, and even though I'm not patriotic I *AM* still delighted that India's through. One more chance for Sachin to get his ton at the world cup!

  6. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.