Friday, August 12, 2005


Afridi hits one of the fastest ever tons to leave a crowd of 50,000 at Green Park, Kanpur speechless, but not with awe.
I do not intend to hurt anyone's sentiments but I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed because even though the Pakistani cricket team didn't need the backing of Indian spectators to win the one-day series but a little sportsmanship wouldn't have hurt.
I would've stayed mute if I hadn't witnessed the hosts turning "host-ile" towards the guests in the final one-dayer which forced the players off the field.
A year ago, my jaw almost dropped to the ground when in the first one-day match in Karachi, I saw people, with the Pakistani flag in their hands, cheering and praising the Indian batsmen when they were battering the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the park. I was at my home crunching my teeth with hopelessness, despair and anger but the way the Pakistani crowd presented themselves was heartwarming. Not only in Karachi, but also in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and wherever the teams played, the crowds welcomed the Indian team with a big heart.
I've spent a good part of my life in the Middle East and I have had Indian friends and acquaintances. Most, if not all, have the same feelings towards us that we have towards them. We don't hate each other.
After the hospitality the Pakistani crowds displayed towards the Indian team during their tour de Pakistan, it was always on the cards that the Indian crowd would do its best to better what their Pakistani counterparts did. The norms and ethics of hospitality also suggested the same; but it wasn't to be.
Giving the credit where it's due, the Indian people proved excellent and extraordinary hosts for the Pakistani spectators in general, and the cricket team in particular at their homes and public places but it seems an altogether different nation once they move out of their houses and into the stands of a cricket stadium.
Sans doubt this was the best Indian crowd a Pakistani team would've ever experienced but it was still well under par. I'd have expected some good-will from the Indian people out of sheer diplomacy if not generosity but the people didn't seem to bother.
The Indian crowd has never had the reputation of being one of the finest crowds in world cricket. Whether it is the semi-final of the '96 world cup when India lost the all important match to Sri Lanka before they actually lost it because of the behavior of the crowd or the test match in Pakistan's '99 tour of India when the officials had to vacate the stadium to allow the match to proceed, the Indian crowd is known to lose their marbles once they are confronted with defeat.
The Indian crowd is known to be one of the noisiest as well as the quietest crowds you can come across in a cricket ground. When the Indian team is performing well, they can be seen raising hell at even a miscued shot by their batsmen and a wide delivery by their bowlers but once the other team sends the Indian team to the shackles, one can hear a pin drop among tens of thousands of spectators.
In this particular instance too, the only Indians getting excited at Afridi's pulverizing inning or Naved-ul-Hassan's devastating bowling were the commentators... who probably couldn't help it.
As Shakespeare would've put it: Ganguly was a countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

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