Wednesday, March 30, 2011

India-Pak: a fan view

A lot can happen in three days when you don't write a blog.
A captain resigns, a team qualifies for a final, a politician says something stupid, another politician who was one of the greatest cricketers ever verbally assaults politician number one, some guy writes a book on how Mahatma Gandhi fucked a man, and two cricketing giants engage themselves in a battle of mind games before the actual war begins.
Let's face it: I love cricket more than the battles itself. I'm watching the game for an intense cricket match. While writing this piece, I'll be a hypocrite and say may the best team win, but my heart has a feeling of jingoism - something I'm not really used to. And this comes only during an India-Pakistan match.
Right now, I'm not feeling it, but tomorrow if I'm watching the match along with a large group, I'll be a part of the million emotions that run every microsecond when the two sides play. Wickets will be cheered, runs will be booed and a Sachin century - if it happens - will result in a billion roars across the country.
One of my colleagues interviewed Pakistan actress Veena Mallik, who said that she would support both teams, although her heart would be with Pakistan. "India is the better side," she said. On paper, I agree with her.
But reality says that both sides are evenly matched. One team has been consistently doing well for the last two years, while the other cannot do well unless they are mercurial. However in this tournament, Pakistan has been the most professional side of the lot. Barring a near loss against Canada and a rubbish last five overs against New Zealand, Shahid Afridi and his men seem to know what their role in the side is.
India has had that problem in the past. This tournament showcased it as well. However, MS Dhoni seems to have sensed that and had finally picked his best bowling attack for the quarter-finals. There are, however, rumours that he may pick Nehra or Sreesanth ahead of the semis.
If this is true, I think it may work - especially if Dhoni picks Nehra. If Dhoni wanted to pick either of them, he would have picked them earlier to at least gain some momentum coming into a big game like this. The only thing I can think why Dhoni would think of doing such a thing is the fact that Nehra and Sreesanth can swing the ball really well. Sreesanth has this knack of landing the ball on the seam every time he bowls, which could be an added factor in Mohali. However, Sreesanth is tempremental and if he fails in an outing like this, it could well end his career forever.
Nehra on the other hand tends to be lazy. He is on par with Munaf when it comes to fielding and batting. I feel Munaf is a better container than Nehra, who would look to take wickets. So if Dhoni chooses Nehra over Munaf, he looks like he's being aggressive and is looking to take wickets rather than containing.
The winner is a tough call for me. My heart says India, but my head isn't sure because both teams can be brilliant on their day. It's going to be a battle of two teams, the final battle between a champion batsman and a mercurial champion bowler, Spin Vs Pace and cricket vs politics.

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