India vs Pakistan: The Rivalry turned over-rated?
It all started in 1951-52. The wound of partition was yet to be healed completely and the delicate political situation of the country was yet to stabilize. Some gentlemen from the another part paid a visit over the game of cricket and that embarked the start of a rivalry that has seen houses of cricketers being set on fire, bloods shed over the result of a poor cricket match and players tending to finalize it with a clinch of hands rather than just a game of bat and ball. That initiated a pseudo-war within a round closed area replete with lush green grasses including a brown soil strip in the middle.
But India and Pakistan- two brothers from the same mother have given cricket world some moments of extreme happiness as well as tears that would only lift the morale of the game of cricket.
Anything that earned more respect from the infamous rivalry was the game of cricket itself. Cricket has been the only winner irrespective of the result of the match. The only regret has been the discontinued scheduling of matches since it all started. During the 1965 and 1971 India vs Pakistan war, the war within the 22 yards got a major setback as both the countries couldn’t play a series against each other for almost 15 years. Similar phases were witnessed during the Kargil War of 1999 and 2008 Mumbai attack. Certainly not good for cricket, these phases destabilized the relations between the two cricket playing nations up to an extent from where the establishment of the comfort zone seems to be a long dream.
Then there was the era of Javed Miyandad and Chetan Sharma, of Kapil Dev and Imran Khan, of Sunil Gavaskar and Abdul Qadir and of many more. Those days used to extract out more than 100% from each and every player. Cricket used to reach another level of extreme entertainment and thrill powered by some genius at play in the ground. And for the cricket lovers in both the countries, the match seemed to be nothing less than a war.
Then came the generation of Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saurav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar, Saeed Anwar and some other stalwarts. The rivalry reached another level with some highly intense matches being played. One of them was the league match of 2003 World Cup. It was a match between Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar and former made sure that the match goes down in the history as a memorable one.
India vs Pak: The reason behind intense rivalry
The reasons behind the level of intensity which the infamous rivalry has been involved with, includes the quality of bowlers coming out of Pakistan and the same of the batsmen from Indian soil. If Pakistan had Imran Khan, India had Sunil Gavaskar; if they had Wasim Akram and Shoib Akhtar, India had Sachin Tendulkar. Even the diplomats used to find an India vs Pakistan series as a platform to increase the friendship ties and that had a further impact upon the game. The governing heads of both the countries used to be in the audience and players out in the middle had to be on their toes in order to save the respect of their leaders.
During those days, cricket never used to be played with such a pact schedule. And India vs Pakistan matches used to be a rare occasion. Cricket lovers were not overloaded with the craziness of T20 and test cricket used to enjoy the supreme position in terms of quality of cricket being played. The patriotic feeling had a lot to do with the match as people used to have time to sink in the results. An India vs Pakistan match used to make heroes out of mere players in a fraction of seconds.
In 2004, India visited Pakistan again after a long gap of 15 years and the aura, the atmosphere and the quality of cricket which could be find in an India vs Pakistan match only, found its way back into the scheme of things. Since then until the 2008 Mumbai attack and then attack on Sri Lankan team bus, cricket enjoyed its supremacy. But both these terror attacks turned out to be a major setback for the bilateral cricketing ties between both the teams. Cricket died down into the bloods of commoners and suddenly the cricketing world felt a deep hole in form of the absence of the cricket between India and Pakistan.
It started again. It crawled through the retirement of former giants. The media hype followed. The craziness accompanied. But the cricket breathed back the air filled with discomfort. The quality of cricket didn’t remain the same. The rivalry had turned ‘over-rated’. It wasn’t same anymore.
T20 had a major impact upon it. The platform shifted to the shortest format of the game and quality of cricket diminished accordingly. Packed schedule of world cricket caused an overload of cricketing lunacy. Cricket probably couldn’t reach back to the level it proudly used to rest on.
India vs Pakistan: The over-rated rivalry
Now the hype around an India v Pakistan match has been mainly associated with the statistic differences. The matches happen rarely which has caused a sense of satisfaction among the fans from the cricket and an India vs Pakistan match may excite them but it can never cause them again to take it on their heart and collide with the fans of opposition. Probably the retirement of stalwarts would have been a reason behind. Fans were used to a Shoaib Akhtar vs Sachin Tendulkar rivalry. Now a Saeed Ajmal vs Virat Kohli rivalry may take time to find similar respect inside the heart of cricket aficionados in both the countries. Cricket may have to wait for the next generation of worshippers in order to gain the same respect during the matches between India vs Pakistan. This generation may find it difficult to digest the fact that they will not be able to witness Venkatesh Prasad bowling out Aamir Sohail after a verbal dispute a delivery before.This generation may still be waiting for another Saeed Anwar to take it over Indian bowlers. And the memories of Sachin hitting Shoaib Akhtar out of the park may remain afresh in the hearts of every Indian cricket aficionado from the current generation forever.
But in order to revive the quality of cricket, India and Pakistan will have to play it in each other’s den quite often. The players will have to become next Sachin Tendulkar or Wasim Akram in order to gain back the interest in another India vs Pakistan rivalry like before. Till then let’s enjoy another story being written over the 22-yard strip amid a green surface. Let’s enjoy the game of cricket.