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Celebrating the spirit of cricket

Sports should be above politics and favouritism; it unites people, it should be celebrated as such
A man named Arun Haryani painted his body with Indian Tri-color and Anil Ladvani painted Pakistan national flag on his body pose ahead of India-Pakistan T20 world Cup match, at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.
A man named Arun Haryani painted his body with Indian Tri-color and Anil Ladvani painted Pakistan national flag on his body pose ahead of India-Pakistan T20 world Cup match, at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.
PTI

Mehmal Sarfraz   |   Published 28.10.21, 01:25 AM

Last month was difficult for Pakistan after New Zealand pulled out from its tour to Pakistan minutes before the first match was about to start. England, too, decided to cancel its tour following New Zealand’s decision. It made Pakistani cricket fans angry and dejected. Pakistan’s players were also disappointed. Yet, despite these happening just a month before the T20 World Cup, Pakistan’s players did not lose hope. These incidents seem to have strengthened their resolve as has been evident from the first two games of the tournament.

Pakistan played against India in their first match at the T20 World Cup on Sunday. Their bowlers took wickets at the right time, restricting India to 151 runs in spite of India’s strong batting line-up. Shaheen Afridi and others bowled extremely well. Pakistan are a young and inexperienced side. Yet the opening pair chased the target without losing their wickets, helping Pakistan break the jinx against India.

The rivalry between Pakistan and India on the cricket pitch is legendary. A match between the two neighbours gets the most eyeballs and generates an adrenaline rush. Pakistan and India don’t get to play against each other except in ICC tournaments. The absence of Pakistani players from the Indian Premier League as well as the discontinuation of bilateral series with India is unfortunate. We saw Virat Kohli’s graceful gesture after India’s defeat against Pakistan and everyone appreciated the camaraderie between him and Pakistan’s opening duo at the end of the match. This is what sportsmanship and the spirit of cricket are all about. Mohammad Rizwan tweeted his support for Mohammad Shami because he understands the “pressure, struggles & sacrifices a player has to go through for his country”. Rizwan said that Shami is one of the best bowlers in the world and should be respected: “This game should bring people together & not divide ‘em.” And this is why when New Zealand abandoned their tour of Pakistan last month, their captain, Kane Williamson, had called it a “real shame”. As a player, he understood what Pakistan’s players must have gone through.

On Tuesday, Pakistan beat New Zealand in a game that was being touted as a ‘grudge match’. To win two games in a row under the circumstances that Pakistan has had to face — from discrimination from the ICC when it comes to Test matches and other competitions to top cricket teams refusing to tour Pakistan — shows the resilience of the side. They have proved that they are a force to reckon with on account of sheer hard work and talent. Of course, many matches remain to be played in the T20 World Cup but the first two wins have given Pakistani fans something to celebrate after a long time.

The Pakistan Super League has obviously helped the youngsters. It has given them exposure to international players and coaches. From improving their fielding to polishing their raw talent when it comes to bowling and batting, Pakistani players have come a long way. This league has brought young stars under the limelight. Haris Rauf, who comes from a humble background, being a case in point. To see him where he is today makes cricket special.

Sports should be above politics and favouritism. Sport unites people; it should be celebrated as such. The Big Three should not have a monopoly over the game just because they bring in the most revenue. All cricketing teams work hard and want to give the game their best. Cricket brings us joy as well as heartbreak. We have witnessed a number of heart-breaking moments in our cricketing history but even then we continue to watch the game, get excited when things are going well, and bite our nails, pull out our hair and wear our hearts on our sleeves when things don’t. Cricket is worth all the tears and celebrations.



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