When Pakistan lost to India at Mohali, the initial reaction from Pakistan was that of sympathy. It was disappointing loss to arch-rivals, especially after all the hype created. But there was no such ill-will towards the whole team, minus few individuals who did bad on the day. Vice-Captain Misbah-Ul-Haq was criticised the most. When the team returned, they received a return of a team that has done its country proud. All well and good, bitterness at loss but magnanimosity shown. Indian congratulated, team cheered even after a loss and plans sought for future to remedy the problems lingering highlighted by the World Cup. Poor and passive fielding and fragile and immature batting. Hallmarks of people who finally seem to understand how to enjoy sports and learning from defeat and so on.
But slowly and surely, few text messages, few whispers, few tweets or Facebook statuses and few former (bitter) ex-cricketers alluding to foul play. With India winning the world cup, all just accelerated in to over drive.
In a way, it was bound to happen. The attitude towards things that matter to us have lately increasingly been that of denial of anything being remotely wrong with them. So be that an Ideology, the idea of ‘national interests’ or game of Cricket. We deny anything is fundamentally worth revisiting. Rather certain corrupt Individuals are there that are corroding the system from within and ruining, otherwise a full-proof system.
In case of Cricket team it is that of alleged match fixing players, who always make sure Pakistan never wins. It has nothing to do with playing bad cricket on the day.
Conspiracy why Pakistan lost at Mohali abound. Zardari and Gilani actually brokered a deal with India, Mohali match for composite dialogues. Afridi has now quit the team and protest and thus won’t go to West Indies in disgust!
Match Fixing players purposely lost the match. Some bowlers bowled badly, Batters batted timidly and wasted time, and fielders missed sitters. Those corrupt players, would sell their mothers – the indignant statement that has become Hamid Mir’s & Cos favourite quote. Its akin to a person telling everyone he meets that someone once called cussed at him, and then tell them what the cuss was and reasons for it. Finishing with ‘so you tell me sir, ain’t I a M*** F**?’
I may remind here the (injudicious) statement of Interior Minister Malik, which was played around by Indian media and highly condemned by Pakistani Media. Three days latter, same media is doing worse than what Malik did. Malik implied, which could also have been a wry remark. Here we have ‘experts’ literally analysing the events and concluding, as if proven beyond doubt, that match was fixed.
At no juncture bad Cricket even enters the discussion. Fact that Pakistan had a fragile batting order may be because of Batters in the side either being young, or being out of the team for so long. That bad fielding may be nerves of playing at such a big stage with so many youngsters. That many decisions taken by the captain may be because he just fails to read the game as well as his counterpart does. Simply speaking, Pakistan lost because Pakistan played badly. If South Africa, which had even better record, can lose in a quarter final from a much weaker New Zealand and that can be termed their choking. Why can’t Pakistan with its young players sink on the occasion against their arch-rivals against whom they have never won in a World Cup?
May be I am being too generous. May be I too should join the band Wagon and agree with other people. Shout foul play and concoct new conspiracy theories. That surely would make me less of a gad fly. And when time again comes for a big Tournament, and if the team starts doing well again, find my flag pin, drape myself in the Flag and play milli-nagmas in full volume. Again nothing wrong with that either. Thats what we do, I guess. We only side with success and if they lose its cheat. For we Pakistanis have never been beaten fairly.