By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan’s cricket team could have easily won the semi final against India but purposely lost because of the backdoor intrigues. There was no need to garland a captain who knew that the team has brought slur to Pakistan and utter depression and despondency to millions cricket fans from Pakistan and elsewhere, infused with a bubbling spirit of nationalism. This was the fifth consecutive defeat of the Pakistani cricket team at the hands of the Indian team in World Cup matches. What an odious shame?
It was categorically easy to chase the meager 260 runs scored by Indian team, all the more when national honor was at stake. There have been visible flaws and deliberate lapses committed by the Pakistani players that turned the tide in favor of the Indian team.
I would start building up my argument in support my contention by quoting the arch intriguer Rehman Malik’s sudden telephone calls to the captain of the Pakistani team Shahid Khan Afridi. His statement issued, before the departure of the team for India, was pregnant with a hidden threat that implied that it would be better to lose than win. Later while our team was in India he talked three times on phone to Shahid Afridi which the captain labeled as untimely.In what capacity did he talk? He was neither the President or Prime Minister of Pakistan nor the sports minister. Interior Minister has no direct linkage with the team or was he conveying these messages for someone’s financial gains?
Mr. Malik’s this uncalled for statement made while the team was still in Pakistan, was nationally condemned as ominous and perceived as a kind of spanner to dampen the spirits of the team. Mr. Malik has earned for himself the role of a person who never means what he says. But in this case he was dam serious of hurling a veiled threat to the Pakistani team.
His statement might have two underlying objectives. He meant, “Look we are going to have uniquely crucial parleys with the Indian leadership and we would like to keep the Indians and their government in good humor. If we win the game we lose the positive results that could accrue from the meeting.”
Secondly, he might have conveyed that, “you are going to play on the Indian soil and in case you win you could become the target by flared up and enraged Indians.” It should be recalled that on march 3, 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Pakistan by the terrorists and that was the most appalling event in sports history after the Palestinians massacred the Jewish team in 1972 world Olympics held in Germany.
Let us now focus on the technical contours of the game. Kamran Akmal was as dysfunctional as he has been in previous matches reinforcing the suspicion that he has compromised his game ethics for some ulterior motives that are already well known. It is reported that despite Afridi’s reluctance to include him in the team, he was overruled by the Chairman of the PCB and therefore was imposed upon the team. And look how disappointingly he played and kept his honor and that of the country at stake and finally trampled at the play ground.
There is no harm in assessing that Misbahul Haq was goaded in advance to go slow and waste the precious overs by not hitting even the most pliable ball. If there is any mechanism to verify this apprehension, the truth will come out. Why Abdul Razzaq, otherwise a brilliant and aggressive player put up a very poor and gloomy performance both in balling and batting. There couldn’t be any earthly reason the way he was sluggish and looked clumsy in performing in his dual role.
And there are comments that the power play which could have turned the match in favor of the Pakistani team was not sought at the outset of the Afridi’s stepping into the arena. When it was solicited it was too late and the damage had already been done.
Imran Khan an accomplished cricketer who has the distinction of being the skipper of the team that won the first ever world cup in 1992, argues that with the “worst kind of fielding that the Pakistani team displayed, no team could have won.”
Distastefully the politicians, the bookies, the gamblers and intentional stake holders have infiltrated into the world of sports and it is they who write the script, choreograph the games especially the cricket and decide who should win and which side should lose. But the only team whose players have remained as an easy prey to the trappings of the huge money was mostly Pakistani. Recently, three of Pakistan’s ace players have been awarded fines and bans imposed on their playing for long periods of time. The charges against them are as crystal clear as the 1000 watt bulb lighted in the small dark cubicle.
So with this backlog of bad reputation there is very little benefit of doubt that can be given to the Pakistani team that played in Mohali Punjab and brought for Pakistan a disgrace and shame that in minuscule proportion is equal to the surrender of Pakistan’s valiant army in Palton Maidan in December 16, 1971 to the Indian army.
Now defeat is defeat and it is most of the times humiliating. There is no pride attached to defeat as the circles and various lobbies are trying to portray it as such. Pakistan cricket team’s defeat at the hands of a traditional rival India for the fifth time is not matter to rejoice or self complimenting. It is to lament and grieve. If a defeat unites the nation as being interpreted, then no difference or distance is left between sanity and delusion.
Waiting for four years to avenge this defeat? Is anyone among the crowd of self consolers to presage with absolute certainly that Pakistan would be winning then? Our money loving players will again fall prey to the irresistible monetary temptations and thus the hope and expectations pinned on the next world cup in 2015, would fall apart again.
It is the present that matters. In a similar situation, Mirza Ghalib the eternal poet said in sheer despondency, “Kaun Jeeta Hay Teri Zulf Kay Sar Honay Tak”. Its nearest rendering in English is, “Who can claim to live until the time of surmounting your lock (tuft of beloved’s hair).” Nevertheless, May God bless our gullible nation eternally with his bounties and blessings.