India won their world cup semi-final match against Pakistan, and technically I should be happy about it. For some strange reason I am not. It was a good match, well fought by both teams. Pakistan fought hard to get back into the match after the Sehwag blizzard. India fought back after scoring a what we call a modest total in modern day cricket. The most uncharacteristic thing about Indian bowling attack is, it is devoid of extras and poor fielding. There is hardly any blemish on the field. It looked as if we were looking at a clinical South Africa or the professional Aussies on the field. But it was India. It probably is the first time in a long time where only five bowlers were used. There were no part-time bowlers used. Though you can call Yuvraj Singh that.
Some strange things happened in the match too. Sachin Tendulkar was let off five times in one single match. This hasn’t happened before. Hell, he was given leg before wicket decision when the ball was hitting his arm pit once. That is how unlucky he has been all his cricketing life. Yet he managed to score 99 international hundreds. When Tendulkar gets five chances to live on, you know there is a strong wind which is blowing against you. This match is destined to be India’s. There was not much Pakistan could do with the team they had.
Yet the Pakistani nation had high hopes. You have gotten this far, why can’t you just beat India? Pakistan were good, but it came from very difficult times. For someone to come up and make it to the World Cup semi-finals with that kind of chaos, one man should be commended. Shahid Afridi as a cricketer and as a human being is at his best. I have always liked his explosive nature from the outside but to curb that aggression even when your team mates are dropping lollipops, Afridi has traveled some distance.
Afridi has gone one step ahead in the post match ceremony and congratulated India. That was noble. Afridi has done one last thing before he went back to his mates. He apologized to the Pakistani nation. There is nothing wrong with the apology. But this is not the Afridi we know. People might call this maturity but I differ. Afridi apologizing to the Pakistani nation reflects what’s wrong with the way cricket is treated in the sub-continent. Cricket is elevated to the status of religion. That’s where the biggest problem is. We all know the hype which went in to the start of the match. Most of it is unnecessary. And cricket diplomacy is just unnecessary pressure added by the politicians.
We need cricket back. We need it back from the clutches of the politicians and from the clutches of the geo-politics. Cricket should just be cricket, the game. We also want Afridi back. We want his explosive self back on the ground. Afridi and for that matter no cricket captain should apologize after a defeat. I blame politics and the lack of a alternative pastime in the sub-continent for it.
PS : And for the ad makers of the Indian cricket team, nobody should bleed. I don’t care if it is red, blue or green.