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India vs Pakistan: The return of the epic

Soutik Biswas | 16:20 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

File picture of an India-Pakistan cricket match

George Orwell said sport is "war minus the shooting". In a wickedly revisionist twist to this epithet, many describe India-Pakistan cricket as "war minus the nuclear missiles".

Many would say the same of Wednesday's World Cup cricket semi-final match between India and Pakistan in India's Mohali, not far from the Pakistan border. Listen to the metaphors ex-cricketers are serving up to describe the epic encounter. Vivian Richards says this is "the best war that can be fought ... a war without weapons". Imran Khan insists - quite correctly - that there will be a "curfew in the subcontinent on the day of the match". He also flags up a concern: "I hope it is played in the right spirit."

Khan's concern is understandable. The two sides haven't played a single match on each other's soil since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. With ties between the two neighbours plummeting, Pakistani cricketers have been kept out of the lucrative Indian Premier League after the first season. Since the attacks, the two sides have played each other only twice: Pakistan won a 2009 Champions Trophy game in South Africa by 54 runs, while India won a closely fought 2010 Asia Cup game in Sri Lanka by three wickets with one ball remaining. So the pressure on both sides playing in Indian Punjab will be enormous.

And not many expected an India-Pakistan semi-final this World Cup. The subcontinental twins had been disgraced - ousted unceremoniously by minnows - in the last edition of the Cup in West Indies in 2007. And in the run up to this edition, Pakistan cricket had reached its nadir with three top players found guilty of corruption and the usual selection controversies. A team which appeared to be in a shambles has already confounded pundits and proved that they excel when in trouble.

So Pakistan have won five of the six league games and decimated the West Indies in the quarter-finals.They boast of two of the four top wicket takers in the tournament: captain Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul have picked up 35 wickets between them so far. And thus, this epic battle has been literally foisted upon Indian soil by Pakistan, a rousing victory of sports over politics.

No one believes that Wednesday's game will help ease relations between the squabbling neighbours despite Indian PM Manmohan Singh's cricket diplomacy. Nobody believes that it will pave the way for resumption of bilateral cricket ties, which have been disrupted in the past by wars, the demolition of a mosque, an attack on the Indian parliament and religious riots. The irony is that India and Pakistan had become quite comfortable with winning and losing as they played more frequently before the Mumbai attacks: the two sides played a Test series every year between 2003 and 2007. The honours had been even: India and Pakistan had won one series each and drawn the remaining two. "These days," wrote Indian scholar Ramachandra Guha, "Indians don't take failure as national humiliation. Perhaps they consoled themselves that the country surpassed Pakistan in all spheres. It had better scientists, better writers, a more vigorous film industry, and was a democracy besides."

Will Wednesday mark a return to the old days of crude nationalism and jingoism? I hope not. I hope fans from India and the few thousand from across the border will be generous in their cheer for both the teams. Who can forget the time when Pakistan lost to India during the 1996 World Cup? Fans in Pakistan smashed TV sets, a college student fired a hail of bullets from a Kalashnikov into his TV set and then on himself, another fan died of a heart attack, captain Wasim Akram received death threats, a fan filed a petition in the court against the "disappointing performance" and a cleric said Pakistan would never win at cricket so long as a woman - Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister - ruled the country. Even the plane carrying the players had to be diverted to Karachi as irate fans waited in Lahore carrying expletive-laced banners and rotten eggs. Surely such passions have abated with the passage of time.

So who will win this "final before the final"? Though Pakistan has an overwhelming 60% win rate against India in one-day games, history is heavily stacked against them in the World Cup: it has lost all the four previous encounters with India. Imran Khan says India begin as favourites. But mercurial Pakistan could easily provide the most tantalising twist in the tail.


  • Comment number 1.

    Come on fans it's only a game. As Soutik rightly bothers, have fans in India and Pakistan turn the clock back and revert to jingoism? It's not worth it, so let us all chill, cheer, and enjoy the game. And prove Orwell and other doomsayers wrong.

  • Comment number 2.

    exactly its just a game even here in pakistan for sensible people a failure in crciket isnt that big of a deal as we have more important issues to solve...i hope too much pressure isnt put on either of the teams

  • Comment number 3.

    "Fans in Pakistan smashed TV sets, a college student fired a hail of bullets..."

    What a biased article. Yes, there are some lunatic Pakistani cricket fans. But what about the Indians. Did Mr. Biswas forget that Indian fans used to start setting fire to the stands when they were about to loose a match?? I'm pretty sure Mr. Biswas just 'forgot' to mention the shenanigans of the Indian fans!

    At least make a decent attempt to be neutral when writing a blog that is supposed to be!!

  • Comment number 4.

    whatever may happen, india vs pakistan means, that cricket wins, as the match promises to be a thriller.... just hope, humanity doesnt get knocked over

  • Comment number 5.

    and mr headbanger...should kindly note, that india hosts a population which is 5 times that of pakistan... so if 10 out of 20 pakistanis react and 10 ot of 100 indian reacts, their incidents are 5 times more worthy of attention.. because its natural to find 10% crowd misbehaving... but nearly 50%.... well well...

  • Comment number 6.

    Wait a minute Rishi. Since India have yet to lose a match against Pakistan in a World Cup you better be careful what you say. Cricket=Religion in India. Tendulker=God. I'm sure you heard about Tendulker's biography being written in his own blood and sold for several thousand dollars. Just one example of how much cricket it to people in India. The wrath of many many people in India will be felt unfortunately. I'm sorry to say it but Pakistanis are used to losing. The effect has been and will be nothing compared to the carnage in India.

  • Comment number 7.

    It is more of a case of Indians looking at 1/2% trouble makers with 10 cameras ....... and Soutik it was a pleasant reading. I think it is a 50/50 match i.e. no favorites to start with, whoever will perform on the day will win. But I hope we'll have a great game :)

  • Comment number 8.

    Dear all cricket lovers I think both teams got their own specialities and edges. India heavily rely on their batting strength and Great Pakistan depends on their deadly bowling.I see this game a war zone like many other fans. Key will be again discipline and ability to read the game well in nerve breaking atmosphere. Batting, bowling or fielding errors may sink anyone. Loads to learn from yuraj Singh,s batting display and kiwis overall cricket display in their last game.

  • Comment number 9.

    Rather than focus on what happen if India/Pakistan lose we should instead look forward to match between two very talented sides. To whichever side loses remember one thing it could be a lot worse - imagine an alternate reality where there was no cricket; a reality with no Sachin or Imran; no Kapil or Wasim...

  • Comment number 10.

    Things you said are true, but not necessarily even. I remember watching a match when Indian fans threw plastic bottles and other things into the ground, despite there being a high fence, when the match wasn't going India's way and the match had to be stopped. Remember also the rioting during the match against Sri Lanka, when it had to be awarded to Sri Lanka in 1996.
    The quote you had from Mr Guha, well, India does have more of each things, but it does come across as a bit arrogant. This is pretty natural, as the population is about 6 times that of Pakistan. However, Pakistanis do feel a bit irritated, when India doesn't deal with them at equal terms presuming its own supremacy.
    Having said that, I don't care about the Final, I just can't wait for this thriller on Wednesday and hope that both sides start playing with each other more!
    Come on Pakistan!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    I remember in 1996 world cup indian fans didn't let match to complete when they were loosing to Srilanka,and match was never completed and Srilankha was announced winner.Threats has been made to Pakistan team that if Pakistan reach in final Hindu Extremist leader will decide match. I think these things also worth mentioning in your column Mr Soutik Biswas

  • Comment number 12.

    for a neutral Org like bbc it wasnt a balanced article. we are used to winning against least our head to head record suggest that and also we have seen more success in cricket than india. what i am worried about is that india loses the semi and they will adopt the old tactics of 1999 Pak vs india test, India vs Sri semifinal.....i hope they behave in a civilized manner.....

  • Comment number 13.

    @All: I agree with Nasir and Denthrax about the Indian Fans Incidents to be mentioned also, but other than that its a very good article about the prospect of a very great encounter...A Final before a Final..

  • Comment number 14.


    I find it a little strange that a Pakistani tells an Indian to be " civilized ". India in 2011, is not India in 2009. Make no mistake about it.

    On the other hand, the events in Pakistan and the mass Pakistani riots / 'demonstrations', if you can call it that don't instill much confidence in the fact that Pakistanis will remain 'civilized'.

    In any case, forget about the sensitivities and enjoy the match. :)

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    This time around i dont think Pakistan fans will be disappointed and act violent since no one including the most optimistic Pakistani gave this any chance.
    Indians will be massively disappointed since the worldcup is happening in india and this is probably the best chance to win.
    The blog is not biased in anyways. Its talking about pakistan's reaction which is very important for the world to see since international cricket is banned in pakistan. There is no denial that a broken and confused india has risen immensely from 1996 the last time WC was in india to now a emerging global superpower(not denying the poverty that exist but atleast she is trying to fix it). This is an excellent oppurtunity for pakistan to accept india and move on. Hypothetical two countries can be like USA and canada.

  • Comment number 17. are spot on. This is such a biased article. I remember the 1996 semi final was never completed because crowd didn't let it and SL was declared as winner. How about when Javed Miandad hit sharjah six and reaction of people in India. Even till today Pak vs India overall matches, Pakistan has won more and it was always strong team and one time for India winning over Pakistan was a dream. What a joke this article is.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 19. orwell was never a doomsayer

  • Comment number 20.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hey but didn't an earlier blog of yours say the 'fever' is missing from this world cup????

  • Comment number 22.

    Extremely Biased. The article looks like it has been written by a hard core Indian fan. I agree with alot of what you have said in the article, but your discription of all the negatives is very one sided. I dont understand what point that indian scholar's quote was supposed to make except one, it seemed like a weak attempt to cover a very possible loss to Pakistan. Your article is an insult to bbc's reporting standards!!

  • Comment number 23.

    we are all the same people brother!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    @englishman123 take a look at this bro!

    You guys are civilized i agree but also are cheap thieves. India is fighting an old culture and trying to educate people to change ways

    but what does your govt do? Kill innocent young kids in the name of war

    feeling civilized?

  • Comment number 25.

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  • Comment number 26.

    Hey Guys, Lets put pressure on our respective teams and relax. Hope it’s a close one.

  • Comment number 27.

    Let the team that plays best win the simi-final, however, it is pity that a parrot neck had to break because it was forced it to pick a winner !!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Excuse me....!!! Dont dare think Pakistan is lesser than ur India....ok??Do not forget the 1947 victory ov ours...!!! wwe rok

  • Comment number 29.

    What a biased article. Wow

  • Comment number 30.

    Well i'm a supporter of game,, and i can guess the level of excitement here in mohali from these gunshots (comments) fired (posted) in this blog..
    But i'll like to clear some wrong perceptions of few persons..
    1st @ khanthevictorious, we can't judge the whole civilisation on the basis of few wrong incidents.. In Europian countries, even riots take place after football matches.. What to say about them...
    A game is all about excitement,, and few wrong incidents are normal to occur after excitement or disapointment..

    2nd @ headbanger_x:
    Mr SOUTIK isn't biased,, he has mentioned those incidents which happened only after IND-PAK match in WORLD CUP.. As the semifinal match is IND vs PAK,, not IND vs Sri Lanka ,, so why Mr. SOUTIK shall mention IND-SRI LANKA 1996 semifinal match..

    3rd @ MIRZA247:
    please get your knowledge improved.. SACHIN never gave his blood for printing any book,, it was a rumor spreaded by the publishing company...
    His biography is already worth lakhs without doing such things,.
    Moreover if we indians say Cricket=religon and sachin=god.. Then sachin also does justice to our expectations..
    He is more responsible person than he actually shall be.. Recently He rejected the offer worth rupees crores to be a brand ambassdor of a wine company., he said it will convey wrong message to indian people and my fans...

    So only a great person can do such sacrifice..
    (i will like to make you remember about tainted trio of pakistan "butt, asif and aamir" who sold their national pride for the sake of mere pounds)..

    In the end getting back to semifinal clash, worldcup records say that india have won all the 4 matches played between ind-pak..
    In T20 worldcup:- india- 2 and pak- 0
    doesn't these figures are enough to scare you..

  • Comment number 31.

    A typical biased article....the true reflect of a typical indian mentality. Whatever Indians think they have achieved but one thing is for sure.....mentally they will never ever grow.

  • Comment number 32.

    George Orwell was partly right. The problem with cricket is that the international game takes absolute precedence over the domestic game (same in Rugby Union). This means that every cricket match is either a re-enactment of the Independence struggle (a la Lagaan) or revenge against a hostile neighbour and never really about cricket itself. Add to that the fact that their are only 10 first-class cricket playing countries and you've got perpetual war! Football, has proved itself socially empowering and liberative in places like Africa and South America. Cricket by contrast remains static and is becoming increasingly toxic.

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    Can we never debate without descending into name calling? This article states facts, it does not judge a nation or its people by doing so, if people feel insecure enough to feel threatened by such petty issues maybe there is some truth in what the article states eh? If mere words can draw such dramatic responses that too from such seemingly erudite people then I can only imagine what the jock on the block will do at a loss. Even more amusing here is that all this finger pointing doesn't mask your own problems (this goes for my compatriots too btw), are you going to feel better talking about some other culture setting fire to its stadiums when when cricketers get attacked by terrorists in your nation? Sure we have our problems, nobody say anything about India being the epitome of perfection, it doesn't however mean Pakistan is faultless, either.

    Pakistan have done remarkably well until now to get to the semis given the shambles Pakistani cricket was in after the whole spot fixing charade, so kudos to them, shows spirit. India have more or less started to finally justify that tag of pre tournament favorites (patchy bowling performances notwithstanding). To me the real competition will be between India's batsmen and Pakistan's bowlers; holding your nerve will be vital. The last time the two teams met, the same equations came into play, batting vs bowling and Tendulkar asserted his influence on the game in no uncertain terms putting any doubts about what prevailed to rest. This around, he's got better support so it'll be even more interesting if anything.

    All said and done, let the game speak for itself; the India Pakistan rivalry seems to have simmered down of late, this game should serve as the perfect antidote to flagging interests.

  • Comment number 35.

    Excellent. Worth watching. A great battle. But my humble request to our indian team is please do not take our tradition of hospitality as reflected in "Athidi Daivo bava" (Guest is God) seriously and focus on playing as a team as they did with aussies. Let us not loose but win!We will be good hosts after that. Indian food and cultural programmes et al.

    krishna gujjari

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    All I wanted to say was that there are some crazy cricket fans both in India and Pakistan, who do not represent their respective nations as a whole. I think both the Indians and Pakistanis should accept that.

    But mentioning the crazy Pakistanis and turning a blind eye to the antics of Indians is just biased.

    And @ Rishsi. What a rebuttal. You, sir, are a genius!!

  • Comment number 38.

    This match is going to be sensational..This is more than just a match. India vs pakistan in any aspect is special. Indian PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh send INVITATION To Pakistan top leaders especially Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch this match, Pakistan is yet to decide on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation to its leaders for the cricket World Cup semi-final in Mohali....
    Both teams don't care about the finals,,they must beat each other in semis

    It is special guyz,,The match is being held near the border of both countries, tickets have been sold...And i just cant wait anymore.......

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    "These days," wrote Indian scholar Ramachandra Guha, "Indians don't take failure as national humiliation. Perhaps they consoled themselves that the country surpassed Pakistan in all spheres. It had better scientists, better writers, a more vigorous film industry, and was a democracy besides."

    the scholar and the blogger has taken the Sport to different level. With such thoughts and provocation, he should not be considered as scholar, for GOD sake. If blogger himself wants to distance himself from being 'Biased' then he should only quote these comments with a criticism. but in fact, the blogger himself delighted with such comments and may share the same thoughts as the so called scholar has.
    disappointed to read from Mr.Biswas

  • Comment number 41.

    Any match between India and Pakistan is always very exciting. There are fans of outstanding players in both the teams on both sides of the Wagha border. So it should treated just as an important sports event between the two sister states. If Manmohan is keen to exchange pleasantries with his counterpart in Pakistan over a cup of tea, well and good. But expecting anything significant beyond this is meaningless and would be considered as spoilsport. Nevertheless, interaction between individuals and nations is the life line of civilised world. So good luck to Manmohan and Geelani!

  • Comment number 42.

    It is not just a game of cricket as everyone is suggesting here. Be honest it is just more than a cricket match. Pakistani players have been deprived of cricket mostly by Indian cricket lobby opposition. They will not allow Pakistani players to take part in IPL alone. I do not care who wins I just want a good contest. Arrogance of Indians tells me we should win but then Pakistani humbleness tells me inshAllah we have a good chance to show world you can deprive us of cricket but you cannot take away our talent. Pakistani team needs to remember their wounds and play like champions who would have thought Pakistan can make into the semis in India.

    We cannot host world cup but we inshAllah will lift the trophy. My prayers and whole Pakistan prayers are with you Afridi boys. You have already made us proud just little more effort and you can deliver a gift to Pakistan that no one in their wild dreams can imagine. Just be positive.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ Who can forget the time when Pakistan lost to India during the 1996 World Cup? Fans in Pakistan smashed TV sets, a college student fired a hail of bullets from a Kalashnikov into his TV set and then on himself, another fan died of a heart attack, captain Wasim Akram received death threats, a fan filed a petition in the court against the "disappointing performance" and a cleric said Pakistan would never win at cricket so long as a woman - Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister - ruled the country. Even the plane carrying the players had to be diverted to Karachi as irate fans waited in Lahore carrying expletive-laced banners and rotten eggs. Surely such passions have abated with the passage of time.
    Last time events I remember were Indians fans throwing shoes, rotten tomatoes, eggs at their players for loosing against Pakistan. They attacked Dhoni home and abused players openly in media and on the streets. Players posters were set on fire on the streets and some actually went so far that they performed Hindu funeral procession to what they say death of Indian Cricket. One should also show the true picture of Indian fans if you don't want to be biased. One should also remember in 1996 when Indian fans set fire to stadium seats for loosing against Sri Lanka.
    Also not to forget Shiv Sena Bal Thackrey recent stance against Pakistan. They will not let Pakistan play in India. Why are they playing Pakistan now? One should be worried if India loose which is my wish then what will be the response of Indian people.
    I would like to see that side of the story too and hopefully I will see it on the 30th March inshAllah

  • Comment number 44.

    Lets forget everything and enjoy the GAME. We will be the witness of a thriller this wednesday. Should pray from GOD that WC remains in ASIA. :)

  • Comment number 45.

    Some of the responses from the pakistan cricket team fans are so hypocritical it almost brought a tear to my eye(because of all the laughter).

    I can see how you would imagine this to be a biased article, but all of what he has said is true. And he hasnt even mentioned the other "shenanigans" the pakistani cricket team fans have been upto.

    I dont really want to get into all the details about it, but then you guys should be respectful and do the same. All Mr. Biswas has done is pointed out some cricket facts, which includes some stats from the world cup as well. Pakistan has a better head to head record against india, and india has a much better head to head record against pakistan in the world cup. Do pakistanis even find that hard to swallow. Mr. Biswas has writtten about the reaction of the pakistani fans after the 1996 world cup because this is a WORLD CUP GAME, IN INDIA, AGAINST INDIA. It is the same circumstance. All Mr. Biswas is saying he doesnt want there to be a repetition.

    Anyways, I dont really care much about the article, all i care about is Wednesday, when we DECIMATE THAT PAKISTAN BOWLING ATTACK(REMEMBER 2003 GUYS???)...INDIAAAAAA INDIA!!!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Both teams are evenly matched with mercurial players as good as international cricket has seen and the victor is therefore cricket. But then India has its own priorities as Pakistan no doubt has both of which, as of now are unfortunately not complementary. Surely both can agree barring politicians and religious jingoists on both sides of the Wagha divide to meet the expectations of common people i.e.s food, shelter, children's' well being and of course cricket.

  • Comment number 47.

    Aren't the people of the subcontinent getting too worked - who is going to win and who is going to lose. I say chaps - there is middle way, a democratic way. When the oldest democracy played with the largest democracy - they both won, each went home with one point a piece.
    So why can't these two neighbours (may be arch rival) play and take one point each? There was a precedent. Cheer up.

  • Comment number 48.

    not a very qualitative article, we all know what cricket means in sub continent, especially when india vs pakistan. but no need to mention things like pakistani breaking screens and stuff, cause worst happens in india aswell remmember when people smashed dhoni's house, pitch invasions and fires in stadiums, come of it, simply show some sports man spirit, hope it is going to be a good watchable match, played and watched in good spirit

  • Comment number 49.

    Boys from India and Great Pakistan. We are so much wasting our energies by putting our fingers on each other. Our governments been doing the same, wasting our resources confronting each other. Lets respect each other. Take game 4 de sake of game. Sportsman spirit required in all of us. great Pakistan ,india we r all good. We r all humans. Look fwd for a great entertainment on wednesday. Love ur team, support ur team. Good luck everyone.

  • Comment number 50.

    Let us not forget that thousands of people have recently died in a natural disaster and many more are suffering. In this day and age Sport can be a tonic to spread some joy and togetherness into people's lives......let this not descend into childish conflicts and violence that would add to the woes of the world........

  • Comment number 51.

    The upset Pakistanis are missing the elephant in the room: neither any match of this series nor any other cricket match is being played in their hometowns because of the constant threat of violence against the players. Have you forgotten the armed attack on Sri Lankan team already? Maybe it's true that you people are incapable of facing the unpleasant facts.

  • Comment number 52.

    Indian here.Really disappointed with most of the comments posted by both sets of fans.
    It is just a cricket match.Why are both sets of fans portraying this as some kind of civilizational battle where the winner gets to exile the other from the face of this planet??
    For the uninitiated,things in India have changed dramatically since 1996.Over the past few years,on the pitch, we pride ourselves in playing and beating the Aussies.For me and knowledgeable "Cricket" fans winning against Aus has become the denominator of India's performances and their level in International cricket.
    Regarding Pakistan cricket team,we always Seem to start our discussions with "possibly the most talented squad" aphorisms.Who wouldnt want an Akram or a Waqar leading their bowling attack!!
    Off the pitch inspite of whatever happened in Mumbai,people talk about business,vacations,movies,MBAs,US crony capitalism and usually never about Pakistan,positive or negative.
    Infact in most urban cities Football has long overtaken cricket.The only reason i am here even reading this blog coz its a WC event.I no longer follow cricket as much as football(Liverpool fan) and i would rather sip beer in a tavern with a fellow Pakistani who is a hardcore Liverpool fan than an Indian who follows Old Toilet/Chelshit.
    Just enjoy the game,Applaud the worthy and move on.YNWA....(really want tendulkar to score a century and India to win..Already feigning illness to get that sick leave which is so hard coming by @ the end of fiscal year)...

  • Comment number 53.

    Mr Biswas you are forgetting one important thing-the way indian crowd behaved in that 1996 game. You are trying to make out as if only Pakistan side behaves emotionally in games between these two rivals, it sounds bit bias.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Match between India-Pak is never cricket only as some on the board have been trying to portray. It goes much beyond that with bosth sides having a point to prove. Ask the Irish if they just won a match against England or was it something else.
    Those of you who are complaining about the Indian bias here, check out the Pakistan boards where this match is being projected as a war.

  • Comment number 56.

    After loosing in Australia, Pak cricketers returned incognito in separate batches. Last time Pak lost to India in cricket, Pak fans were demanded flogging in public. Pak players will be playing for their lives, now that the ones who were playing for bookies have been rooted out :) (or have they).
    Cant wait to see a hungry Afridi bite the the apple again ;)

  • Comment number 57.

    It's going to be an excellent match on Wednesday with two of the best cricket nations playing against each other. Both sides will want to win and reach the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final! India got the best batting line-up and Pakistan got the best bowling attack. Lets all hope and pray we do not have any violence. PM from most both countries will be at the match and that is interesting. Both sides evenly good so there is no favourites for this matches. Too close to decide who will win.

  • Comment number 58.

    Things really have moved on since 1996 - not only in cricketing circles but in all spheres of life in India (especially urban India). Mohali will, no doubt, be a cauldron of excitement and tension but I expect the fans on both sides to be generally well behaved. No India-Pakistan encounter is ever complete without some healthy exchanges between the opposing fans and the players alike. I expect the same to happen in Mohali on the 30th - no more, no less. The fact that the game is being played in Indian Punjab means that there will possibly be a few more hot heads in the crowd, which may lead to more vociferous patriotism and eye-balling.

    I agree that Pakistan is now very low on the agenda of the common Indian, especially when it comes to dinner table or other social conversations. Saying that, I will not admit that we completely ignore our neighbours, because that is simply not true. The problem is that both countries have effectively diverged further and further with every passing year. This parting of ways can be seen in various fields and is not limited to the political, social or religious circles alone. One only has to visit both countries, in turn, to witness it first-hand.

    One aspect that I hope never changes, is the bitter rivalry we have with our western neighbours on the field. I have loved every game and it is a credit to both teams that we provide one another with such quality opposition. I hope that we start playing more regularly, as politics and sport really should be kept as far apart as possible. I pine for the day that a combined Ind-Pak (and possibly Bang?) side with our combined cricketing genius and firepower plays a Best of the World team - it would be a whitewash!

    In any case, here's to the 30th, and the very best of luck to the boys in blue and green.


    I won't miss it for anything.

  • Comment number 59.

    Pak fans have been in denial for quite some time now and seem to have amnesia when presented with unpleaseant facts. Everyone is aware of the facts as to why Pakistan is not hosting any matches, yet the Pak fans seem blisfully oblivious (or ignorant).
    If India looses, yes, there will be calls for Indian players to be sacked and humiliated. How would it be handled in Pakistan if Pak is on the loosing side. Historically it has been more unpleasent and shameful in Pakistan but you are free to draw your own conclusions.

  • Comment number 60.

    This article is far from facts just as India is far from being democratic (recent corruption scandals, Gujrat Train Verdict, Modi as special Guest!!!! for award cermonies).

    Cricket is one of the things that Pakistan is better at compared to India. Other things include but not limited to Professional Pakistan Army, Diplomacy, and strategic alliance with USA and NATO.

    Having said that Pakistan will crush India on Indian soil infront of indian fans.

  • Comment number 61.

    I knew that an article like this will attract childish and immature comments from both sides. Funny the same anger isn't shown when the politicians continue to get away with practically anything. But hey, lose a cricket match of all events, watch the mob burn effigies and conduct mock funerals. Seriously, most of the people who've posted here need to grow up.

    I'm hoping for a good game of cricket. May be best team win. Can't wait for March 30th.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    It was a really biased article... it didn't meet BBC's reporting standards.... i think that the author FORGOT to mention something....

  • Comment number 65.

    As a Pakistan fan, I feel really disappointed by the comments on this blog. Can't we just accept that people in both countries are really passionate about the game and often times this has been expressed in the wrong way. I think we shouldn't forget that after all cricket is only a game, and it shouldn't be taken as a reason to start this frankly annoying nationalistic arguing that goes on every time. I am hoping for a good game and one that is played in the right spirit and hopefully fans of both nations will not overreact.

  • Comment number 66.

    You are all wrong! It's not just a game. It is THE game. Pretty bad it's on a weekday and not on the weekend. Can't watch it on TV, must follow it on TMS or so. Well, well, mouth watering at least. Hope it goes to the wire, and may the best team win!

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 69.

    I agree with Pakfan93 and others like him. I hope that the players of both sides will play the game like good sportsmen, and that all concerned including the crowds, will behave in a mature, level-headed way. I hope people do not forget that manners and civility are far more important than winning or losing a game of cricket.

    And, you had a tough task, Mr. Biswas! At least some Indians and Pakistanis seem to be supersensitive to any "imbalances" in such an article. So, unless you rigorously "balanced" the article like a chemical equation, you could not have avoided the accusations of bias!

  • Comment number 70.

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  • Comment number 71.

    Cricket with Pakistan and India is correctly put War minus the shooting.Unfortunately a lot of underwold money of Dawood and and black money of Sharad pawar is already placed as these businessmen make profits in such cricket matches.Some people will say if pakistan win then Pakistan's position on Kashmir since 1947 is vindicated and vice versa or Kashmir be gambled away to the winner (if it is Pakistan).Unfortunately it is Pakistani General King has been playingwith India since 1947,especially after partition when Islam was in danger and muslims will be dominated was pakistan carved and now Islam is in danger if Pakistan does not get
    Kashmir and muslims will be marginalised and in this backdrop are these Cricket matches.Whoever wins in cricket it is India who has been the victimof wars and terrorist deaths from pakistan Militiary and their trained terrorist outfits LeT,HuM etc

  • Comment number 72.

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  • Comment number 74.

    Bad article written with Indian goggles on. Lot of irrelevant stuff like Indians don't care about loss since they have surpassed Pakistan in all sphere such as Bollywood -are you kidding me???who cares about that? Also does he know for sure that a boy fired a round of klashinkof in 1996?? All in all pretty bad stuff. In a nut shell, this is mother of all games and should be played with high spirtits. Ignorant writers should stay away

  • Comment number 75.

    Just as it is "just a game" of cricket, this is just another "blog". Biswas has tried to write an impartial piece. No one living outside India can understand what's going on inside. I think we are a true democracy, with ''chalta hai'' and corruption thrown in for good measure. Anyway I do think Pakistani cricketers fight hard and are talented. So we'll have a game on our hands. More being said is excessive.

  • Comment number 76.

    I can understand why this article appears biased. Perhaps Mr. Biswas went a little overboard in listing only the Pak version of events after they lost in 1996. There were stray incidents like that on Indian side too when India lost in 1996 and may be later also. So to report only one side of events is not in right spirit.

    But I do agree with the point of Indians having moved on from their Pak-centric focus. In 1990s most of the Indians used to compare with Pak in every aspect of life but lately I do see them comparing themselves with China and that is for a good reason as India began to see a bigger role for itself in the world.

    But I do not see why cricket should be played when we have much bigger issue to be solved. In India many innocents die due to help/direct involvement of people from outside the country. And I guess the same is seen by people outside the country about India too. So when such bigger issues of life and death have not been resolved by the two countries a game like cricket is not going to do much. There was a genuine warm feeling at least from India towards Pakistan about early 2000s (I'm guessing it was mutual as I do not know how it was in Pak). But 2008 Mumbai attacks changed all that. So many innocents were killed that day mercilessly. Why? And not a single person has been arrested by Pak even though they admitted there were some elements there who actually planned it. Why does anyone think a silly game of bat and ball will remove these feelings easily? They will not.

  • Comment number 77.

    Biswas killed the point of his own article. At the start he's advocating that sports should be politics free, yet he decides to name the negatives of Pakistani fans without addressing Indian fans and decides that he'll throw in an unecessary quote by some scholar that would be offensive to pakistanis. Bravo!

    @Rishi - Brilliant, where did you pull that statistic out of? You said it yourself "IF 10 out of 20..." who's to say it was 10 out of 20, please don't say something so stupid without statistics to back yourself up, disguising stupidity as intelligence is not one of your strong suits.

  • Comment number 78.

    Good match.Most talented captain is Dhoni.Akthar not need for match.

  • Comment number 79.

    Quite amazing that people in pakistan give attention to the foolish statements made by shiv sena.. Shiv sena is nothing but an obnoxius regional political party of maharashtra.., i don't know what other people of india,,but here in punjab the statements of shiv sena are taken as a JOKE., and the person who made those statements are nothing but POLITICAL JOKERS..
    The agenda of this party is merely just regional and anti pakistan.. And they have to got a chance to collect votes in mumbai by making anti pakistan comments aftermath 26/11..
    So its natural for them to make such statements,..And they are talking about staging protests..

    But can any pakistani tell us a single harmful voilent incident which is carried by shiv sena against pakistan..

    Right now the biggest threat for cricket world cup is terrorist attack., which is said to be planned on pakistani soil.. So shiv sena is nowhere in this scenario..

    1 more thing., that this article isn't biased.. Writer is talking only about ind-pak world cup matches becouse semifinal is a ind-pak match.. So its obvious to mention incidents which occured after earlier ind-pak world cup matches..

    Now as india has never lost to pakistan in world cup so such incidents didn't happen in india after ind-pak match..So how he can mention it??

    So just forget about these things and get ready for the game... Its so hard to wait..
    The biggest ever cricketing event is here...
    India gonna win again....

  • Comment number 80.

    Corrections in my last comment:
    i don't know what other people of india THINK.,,

  • Comment number 81.

    Cricket for Indian And Pakistani has became a part and passion of life and politics.we have to agree with diplomacy is a born word officially for that.But at the same time it is the real way to approch it is , it is a game. It is a sport. Enjoy it. be fan of your country . But don't let anything to be distructed due to the failure of a match, See guys , It is a true that only one team will be qualified for semi final. So its a failure of the other team in the match only . not the failure in a war. not showing a victory in policies over the other .those points will be still remaining there with increasing seriousness.

    Now here the competition is going on to calculate the % of distruction each country people have made. what is this. I do n't think this is the real way to approach a game.Be a fan of your country . pray for it.enjoy if sad if loose and expect for the next match in the future.these all are your rights. But these are not right to distruct TV, stadium, suicide,etc..etc..

    Hope India will win the match and take the cup

  • Comment number 82.

    I must say that i find this post negative and biased to some extent. It always does good to do a self analysis as an individual, community and nation to rectify the negatives and to rise above them.

    More relevant was to mention the strengths and weaknesses of the wonder India is a much better and strong team on paper. Having said this, I personally do not find any reason for the writer to hit on a nation's behavior in a negative term....or has he forgotten the India-SL Semi on Mar 13, 1996 which was marred by violent reactions, while writing this article?? It’s only human to react, when there are emotions involved but everyone needs to be careful it does not go out of bounds to affect others or instigate hatred.

    It DOES NOT do any good to anyone pointing fingers at a nation's behavior. Condemn what is worthwhile, don’t get personal please.

    There is no hope of anything, be it normalization of diplomatic relations, revival of sports event, or development of positivity among the people living so close by who share a history together UNLESS you learn to HOPE. People dignified enough to write on forums such as BBC also carry a huge responsibility, and I HOPE they use the opportunity well.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think it is very amateurish and childish of people pointing to cricket blogs/websites as factual evidence for what Shiv Sena says and does not say.
    SS is just a regional outfit with it own Opportunistic political agendas which never comes to fruition and are laughed at by most people even in Maharashtra.
    Their stand is the following "They wont allow Pakistan to play in Mumbai coz Mumbai was the epicenter of the terrorist attacks carried out by Pakistanis 2 years earlier". Many Indians do not go by this stance since they think cricket and politics should be separate.
    But going to by the rather vicious and vitriolic diatribe from both Indians and Pakistanis over here it seems clear that even according to them it is much more than cricket...
    If that is the case then there should not be any problem with the stance taken by the concerned political party.
    It is better if people introspect about the drivel that they post over here.
    Regarding the article...i give it a 2 on 10...Not a sensible article at all...

  • Comment number 84.

    To me it’s like playing against your own family. I may be living in the past but I still see the two nations as one and wished it was never split in to two.
    May the best team on the day win!

  • Comment number 85.

    Already there are seven dozen lovers of the game who have commented on this story.
    However what I would like you to do is to check up the facts about what Imran Khan is reported to have said. I have been watching his TV interview on Geo.Whatever he said about 'India begin as favorites' was in the context, with reference and on the basis of the 'ratings' of the Indian bookies and gamblers; for which they are well known.
    If this is what 'Soutik Biswas's India' is, then let it be so.But reporting 'ethics' are being ignored.Otherwise, the game of cricket must be played in the right spirit. The host country is expected to applaud the guests if they play well.Both the teams want to win, but both of them can't be the winners. So, please don't be so nervous about the visitors playing cricket at your home ground.In my opinion both the teams are the 'favorites'.If cricket can be a source of getting the two neighbors together,then what more can be said about the benefits.
    'Surely such passions have abated with the passage of time'.But. you could have said it in the context of both the sides; which unfortunately you haven't said.Yet, far away from America, I wish both the teams best of the luck. I love cricket.

  • Comment number 86.

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  • Comment number 87.

    As a British person living in Lahore I will be supporting Pakistan after England's sorry exit. Pakistan needs some good news more than India, but lets keep it peaceful.

  • Comment number 88.

    It is quite interesting watch India and Pakistan is playing in World cup semifinal. I hope both teams will have same spirits usually they do. Winning team will be a real winner.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 89.

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  • Comment number 90.

    Wait a second mirza, Pakistan have already beaten Australians, Pakistanis shattered their dreams thats why India won. You are wrong pakistan is not used to losing.

  • Comment number 91.

    This is a game, like any other game. One will be a winner and Other will loose. Yes India and Pakistan game is at its best. But I want to comment on one persons comment, the one who says don't underestimate Pakistan's strengths, as he reminds of what happened in 1947. Mahatma Gandhi reportedly requested Jinnah not to demand for a separate state. But Jinnah, being adamant on the issue, Mahatma told him you will not survive for too long. Just give Pakistan (Name constituted from combination of the four province) 60 - 70 years, and you will be broken to pieces. When for 60 + years you fought wars and proxy wars with India you could not destabilize India, your Pak (PURE) nation has turned to killing your own nation and your own people. Just remember Mahatma's words of wisdom to Jinnah are in the right track and happening. You could have followed the path of India but your invaluable pride did not let that happen. So let us not compare someone with someone else. Any time you compare something the end result is always that you are admitting that the opposition is stronger or better than you. So please stop comparing pakistan to INDIA. It is no where even close. Your countries division has started and the end is soon approaching even if pakistan wins the WC semi final. To end it One is a looser and the other one is a winner But that is in the game. But pakistan as a country is on the verge of as a BIG LOOSER. My sympathy is with your people over who common sense prevails.

  • Comment number 92.

    More bankrupt (morally, economically and politically) a country is, more importance it gives on smaller issues to prove itself. 'cause it has very few issues left to boast on. Probably Cricket is the last few remaining issues for such countries (I do not want to name any country and leave that to readers). Many sections of the country plays that specific card(s) to reap its own crop- be it politicians, media, unemployed youths (to get one more excuse to drink and party in a poor, conservative society), or), government employees (to enjoy another day "holiday" and so on. Cricket is no exception.
    It is a fact that world cricket is now dominated by money power of Indian corporate houses. It is in their best interest to keep that cricketmania alive and kicking, even at the cost of someone else, be it a country (our own or some other) or sport. Once world power of cricket administration (England, Australia mainly) now paved way for Indian subcontinent, a place like Dubai (known for its crime and international mafia operations more than cricket) became ICC HQ, instead of any city in UK or OZ.
    If India wins or looses, it has noting to loose as a country. The same is true for Pakistan.

  • Comment number 93.

    I also do not understand why Indian PM is attending the match (I hope not the whole match and waste a full working day as someone who is at the helm of one of the busiest positions in the country).
    More disturbing is what does Indian PM like to achieve by inviting Pakistani PM to the match. Do they really believe that they can discuss Indo-Pak bilateral relations while watching the match (while India repeatedly rejected to meet Pakistani higher officials "till there is no concrete actions from Pakistani government against 11/26 terrorist attack on India")! Pakistani or any other citizen (even PM, or president) are welcome to watch the match, but that must not allow our government leadership to waste a working day. A congratulatory note to the winning team would have been more appropriate, I think.
    OR does Indian PM feels insecure to watch the match alone and feels that presence of Pakistani leaders will deter the terrorists to attack the venue?
    Our own politicians do NOT allow the game to be played in a true spirit of a game, but give that an added importance and drag politics into it. Then naively sermons others "do not mix cricket with politics".

  • Comment number 94.

    If Indian PM wants to discuss the serious issues involving Pakistan it should have the guts to do so openly, be accountable to its citizens and without using cricket (or any other game or occasion) as a shield.
    Indians "leaders" are expected to show little more maturity and do their duties as true "leaders", NOT cheer-leaders.

  • Comment number 95.

    "Indians don't take failure as national humiliation. Perhaps they consoled themselves that the country surpassed Pakistan in all spheres. It had better scientists, better writers, a more vigorous film industry, and was a democracy besides"

    Great quote, we are way above Pakistan is every field that losing at cricket doesnt really make an impact as we have so many other acheivements, unfortunately this cannot be said about Pakistan.

    India to win on Wednesday, Tendulkar to get his 100th 100!

  • Comment number 96.

    Majority of our MPs do not attend parliament sessions when there is a match for India. They forget that Indian taxpayers pay few millions or rupees for one session in our Parliament and they waste such huge money in the name of "cricket"! Will they allow others in government offices and daily labors to enjoy the same "right" (it is not a privilege anymore, watching cricket has become a "right" in India) when "team India" goes to the field?
    Please pass a bill in that effect and let political jokers like Karunanidhi, Jaylalitah etc donate free TV to daily labors, while their corporate and/or political boss grant (by law) a fully paid holiday to enjoy such "glorious days for India", as a country.
    It is up to the Pakistan people to demand the same from its leadership, if they want to improve as a country..

  • Comment number 97.

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