Following the Pulwama attack, Indian cricket fans had urged the BCCI to boycott Pakistan and Sunday’s match in the men’s World Cup tournament. The hostility between India and Pakistan has affected their cricketing ties, with no bilateral series played since January 2013. Virat Kohli’s second-ranked ICC ODI team last played Sarfaraz Ahmed’s sixth-ranked team in Champions Trophy final in June 2017 – an encounter no Indian fan would like to be reminded of.
ThePrint asks: Is India-Pakistan World Cup match hype all about emotions since Kohli’s team is superior?
To say Kohli’s XI is the superior side only increases the pressure on India to win
Editor (Media) and Editorial Skill Development, ThePrint
Sunday’s match between India and Pakistan is not war by other means. It is all about cricket – a pure, unadulterated contest between neighbours and rivals, not foes, at least not on the pitch of play.
The hype surrounding the match merely helps to heighten the expectations from the game. Can India beat Pakistan, once again, and retain its unblemished record at the World Cup – it has beaten Pakistan in the six World Cup encounters between the two teams – or will the law of averages catch up with India?
There’s always a sneaky feeling that India’s luck against Pakistan can’t last – that’s what creates the tension and the hype.
To say Kohli’s XI is the superior side only increases the pressure on India to win – or face the ire of unforgiving fans. It also betrays a misplaced sense of arrogance. In the last two games against England and Australia, Pakistan stood strong, against the odds, pulling off a famous victory against the former and coming from behind to all but deliver an improbable win against the latter.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Pakistan is erratic and entirely unpredictable. So, the result will come down to this: which Pakistan turns out for the match.
Pakistan’s unpredictability and Indian top-order’s trouble with swing bowling creates room for uncertainty
India-Pakistan matches have been a mundane exercise for the past few years. So, what explains the hype this time around?
Partially, it has got to do with the historical memory. It has become a vogue to suggest that the India-Australia rivalry is now the new India-Pakistan rivalry. But that holds true only for the ardent cricket fan. For the average viewer, India-Pakistan matches are still an exciting affair, akin to a Rajinikanth or a Salman Khan movie.
Another factor is the unpredictable nature of the Pakistani cricket team. In two subsequent matches, the Pakistani side is capable of defeating the strongest team and losing to the weakest side.
Two instances highlight this phenomenon.
During the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, the Indian side demolished Pakistan during the group stage. When the two teams met again in the final, the exact opposite happened.
More recently, at the ongoing ICC World Cup, for the initial part, Pakistan was reeling against Australia. Batting first, it looked like Australia would go on to score at least 350 runs. About halfway through the first innings, a different Pakistani side showed up and dismissed Australia for just 307 runs. In response, regardless of a few decent partnerships, Pakistan still failed to reach the target.
As cricket analyst Joy Bhattacharya pointed out, somehow both the Pakistani sides managed to show up during the same game.
On a slightly technical note, Indian top-order batsmen haven’t had a great record against proper swing bowling. This creates more room for an unpredictable outcome.
India-Pakistan game will be played as much on the pitch as off it
Senior Associate Editor, ThePrint
It doesn’t matter a scrap which team is superior. When it comes to an India-Pakistan cricket match, the only thing that matters is emotion and how each team handles the pressure of expectations on that day.
As far as the ICC Cricket World Cup goes, India beats Pakistan hands down with a clean 6-0 record.
But, and this is a significant but, Pakistan holds the edge where ODIs are concerned – they’ve won 73 matches compared to India’s 54. And Pakistan playing their brand of typically ‘Pakistan’ cricket (read unpredictable) cancels out any calculations on paper.
Statistics aside, today’s game is, as usual, going to be high on emotion and excitement, but, perhaps, just a wee bit more. It comes in the backdrop of heightened tension between the neighbours as we negotiate each other in a post-Balakot world. And the jingoistic advertisements merely add to the spectacle.
Interestingly, the last time India and Pakistan played each other in a World Cup match in England, the two countries were in the middle of the Kargil conflict. That was June 1999. And the venue, coincidentally, was the Old Trafford.
The players of either team, no matter how much they try to insulate themselves from the goings-on in the world beyond cricket, are affected by the high expectations. The screaming fans, painted faces, flying flags and messages on posters take the emotion factor several notches higher.
So, while the 22 yards will be in focus, it’s a game that will be played as much on the pitch as off it.
An India-Pakistan match now is more about enjoying other team’s defeat, not good cricket
We as Indians take pride in our cricket team. After defeating South Africa and Australia, team India is clearly on a brighter wicket in the ongoing World Cup. But we are clearly not looking forward to the Sunday match in anticipation of good cricket.
India’s victory in cricket is now attached to either sloganeering of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or making other countries feel a little less about themselves. How else do we explain this new ad gimmick where Fathers’ Day card is being used to show how India is indeed Pakistan’s father.
An India-Pakistan match gives us a scenario to vent our frustration on everything that is wrong with the country, and all those things for which we could easily blame “external interference”. There was a time when an India vs Pakistan cricket match used to be more about watching how Inzamam-ul-Haq would defend the most difficult bowling or how Sachin Tendulkar would strike his sixes with ease; but now, it’s largely about enjoying the defeat of the other for all the reasons barring good cricket.
As far as Virat Kohli’s team is concerned, it can be said the team is clearly superior on paper but it’s the effort on the field that will determine whether the team truly is superior to its opponent, which is just as unpredictable.
India-Pakistan matches serve as chances for the two nations to seek revenge for an imagined betrayal
When India and Pakistan play against each other, it is no less than a war for people on both sides of the border. The emotions always run high in these games. It’s not just about the cricketing history but also the shared history of Partition.
I believe the passive aggression (which lately has started becoming very active) comes from a place where we would like to believe that the other side has betrayed us. We like to keep this betrayal alive and seek revenge. These matches are our escape points that provide us a chance to seek that revenge, to teach the other side a lesson. We do not want to play cricket with them but want to crush them as and when we get a chance to play them.
Coming back to Sunday’s World Cup match, the tournament’s history is indeed in India’s favour. Pakistan has never managed to defeat India in a World Cup match. Despite India’s record against Pakistan and a good performance in the tournament so far, one should not take the Pakistani cricket team lightly. They did manage to defeat hosts, and tournament favourite, England when nobody expected them to, especially after their 105-all out debacle against the West Indies team. The Pakistani cricket team is unpredictable. Hence, a bad day for India will put all the records aside.
Sunday’s match could be fodder for everyday jingoists to lash out at Muslims should India lose
Senior copy editor, ThePrint
Every time a sporting event announces a match between India and Pakistan, everything other than the sport shape the debates around the day-long event. Sunday’s cricket World Cup match has not been, nor will be, any different.
Indians fed on faux nationalism, and taught to believe their uncontrolled jingoism is true patriotism, start out by demanding that the scheduled match should not take place. “Wahan hamare jawaan border pe lad rahe hain! (Our soldiers are fighting at the borders).” They then move to abusing and demeaning Pakistan and its players, pulling out possibly the only statistical glory they have going for them — 6-0 against Pakistan in six World Cup encounters.
Finally, they turn to their comfort of bigotry, where every Muslim in India is bursting crackers at India’s loss, or Pakistan’s win – it remains unclear which one takes the precedence. At the very least, each Muslim is viewed with suspicion, and often times told in very clear terms: “khush toh bahut hogey tum aaj! (You must be really happy today).”
Pulwama attack in February brought the screamers out, asking India to boycott their Sunday’s match against Pakistan. Then came the flood of advertisements, from either sides of the border, with none of them in good taste. Now the jingoists wait for the result.
An India-Pakistan cricket match is about anything but cricket. Sunday could likely bring for a majority of ‘patriotic’ Indians yet another opportunity to engage in jingoism and lash out at Muslims for ‘praying’ that Pakistan wins.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.