Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jingoism without animosity

Date: April 19th 2006-04-20
Place: Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Occasion: End of India Pak one day match.
Result: Pakistan lost.

During award presentation ceremony, when Rameez Raja called Inzamam – losing captain for a customary chat, Inzy began in different fashion than what he used to. First Inzamam didn’t say ‘Bismillah-e-Rehman-e-Rahim!’ and second he started conversing in Hindi instead of English. I wonder if he had read about this humour that has been going around on net.

Most Pakistani cricketers, who are not comfortable in conversing in English, go prepared for some standard questions that are asked from them when commentators chat with them during the awards ceremony. Inzamam was once asked a different question after Pakistan won the match, for which he was not prepared. He always had a standard response to the first question. But this time.....

Tony Greig: So Inzi, that's fantastic, your wife is pregnant for the second time!
Inzamam: Bismillah-e-Rehman-e-Rahim! All credit goes to the boys. Everyone work hard for it, especially Afridi. It was tight situation when he went in. Without his strokes it not has been possible. He was pulling the good balls. And putting the pressure all the time. Wicket was wet so Afridi took no chances. Specially on leg side. Also Bob Woolmer keeping close watch on progress and giving instructions. It's all team effort which pulled us out of big hole. Insha Allah, we all will work together as team, put in big effort and deliver good result all the time.

Not so much in good taste but does evoke a laugh.

Notwithstanding Inzy’s skills in English, he showed today why he is considered one of greatest batsman in the contemporary world of cricket. I was at India Pakistan one day match after almost 14 years. The only two players that are still part of both teams that played 14 years ago are Sachin and Inzamam. Sachin wasn’t playing due to the injury. Inzy was at its best. He almost single handedly carving out an impossible victory much the same manner Javed Miandad did in Sharjah. Its no surprise to see the exuberant joy coming from normally reticent Rahul Dravid when he ran out Inzy.

Few of the incidents that remained in my memory after being part of this spectacle in Abu Dhabi:

· I was curious to observe the reaction of ‘ burkha clad’ woman and her Indian husband – both Indian nationals – when Pakistan supporters were going gung ho with screams of “ La ilah ilallah “. I was amused when she said that “ shukar karo unke mooh say allah ka naam to aya “. She and her husband were most vociferous supporters of India and neutralized the effect of bombastic pak supporters.
· When chips were down for India with India reeling at 150 for 7 at 40 over mark, shouts of Pakistan Zindabad everywhere around us… her husband resorted to ‘salman zindabad’ ‘shahrukh zindabad’ ‘jai maharashtra’ evoking even ardent pak supporters with gaping mouths and laugher everywhere.
· One thing was evident, despite all the cacophony of boisterous support from respective fans, there was almost no animosity. Someone managed to get 20 liter water bottle and used it as a drum. This drum was shared bet both supporters as they situation changed from one side to other.
· North stand had reserved seats, so supporters from both sides were mixed. But as the match progressed, vocal supporters seemed to converge under ‘flag brigade ‘who carried long flags under their head and paraded from one end to another.
· Behind me, were three siblings with age gap of almost 10 years. They must have been US bred with their English accent. Their patriotism was evident with Pak jersey and green track suit but were keen to see Indian batsman do well. For them, it was sheer enjoymentof Cricket irrespective of who performs well.
· Indian supporters outnumber Pakistani ones but when it comes to vocal chords, Indian are no match to Pak- Pathan ones. Most Indian supporters are white collar workers and tend to get tired. Some Indian woman can match the vocal chord strengths of Pak supporters with shouts of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Ganpati Bappa Moraya

Witnessing live India Pak cricket match is a memorable experience, but I do miss TV action replays. I hope one day, mobile camera would receive TV images. This with binocular would be best combination to be at stadium.

They say, true sportsmanship belies jingoism but the very aspect of jingoistic gung ho make this spectacle unique. What is heartening to see is the receding animosity towards each other. Both supporters want their team to win but they also want to have that victory after pulsating battle of good performance from both the sides.


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