As India beats Pakistan at cricket…
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As India beats Pakistan at cricket…

.. cricket diplomacy looks hopeful, writes Asia Sentinel’s John Elliott

India is noisily celebrating its victory over Pakistan in the semi finals of the cricket World Cup. As soon as the match finished last night (March 30), the sky around my central Delhi flat was full of flashes and blasts from fireworks and young people began driving around cheering on motor bikes. Others danced in the streets, and children came out with their own firecrackers. The same has happened across the country which had spent the afternoon and evening glued to television screens.

To win any cricket match in India is important, especially a tournament’s semi-final, but to beat Pakistan is enormous for this country, just as a reverse result would have been for Pakistan.

It was the India’s fifth consecutive World Cup win against Pakistan. Each such match combines the toxic mixture of rivalry and relationships which both divide and unite these two neighbours that have fought three wars and one serious border battle since independence. But unlike the decades of sometime violent rivalry between for example the England and German football teams, the cricket rivalry between India and Pakistan can have positive results, as has happened here.

There are two main winners from the day’s cricket – in addition to India which won when Pakistan was 231 runs all out, failing to beat India’s 260 for nine. India now goes on to the final against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

One winner is Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, who invited Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to the match.

The other is the relationship between India-Pakistan, which has been fractured and bitter since a deadly attack on Mumbai in November 2008 that was blamed on terrorists who travelled from Pakistan.