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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Rawalpindi - and all that's right with it

The critics will dismiss it as hype but to the millions of Indian and Pakistani fans who now inhabit virtually every part of the globe the build-up to this Rawalpindi Test has been a drama in itself. Everything that a drama seeks to play out is on display – there is suspense (not so much a whodunit as a who’s in it), there is emotion (tons of it – one would expect nothing less in an India-Pak outing), there is relief (for those who believe they were “done in” at Lahore and are glad to have different men-in-white this time) and above all – there is the sense of “sitting on the edge of your seats” – something that you only get when the result is potentially so close.

Move over Ashes, with all your history you cannot come close to the drama that India and Pakistan provide – time and again, match after match. Drama, at its purest, cannot be contrived – it is, simply, of the people, by the people, for the people. Every ball in an India-Pak game is accompanied by “oohs” and “aahs”, every shot by “ohhs” and “waahs” – it is as if each ball has a responsibility to create a story in itself. However much the world may like to deny it, in cricket today, India and Pakistan lead the pack in terms of characters, mass following and, most importantly, intensity. The Ashes may have history but if I may be spared a term of today’s generation “India – Pakistan rock!”

Make no mistake – despite talk of matches being “fixed” and this being a “goodwill” series, there is still everything to play for. As Indian captain Ganguly made very clear before the first day of the series, he is not here for politics but for cricket. In short, he is here to win. The “goodwill” aspect will and, I daresay, has taken care of itself. Friends have been made – hopefully for a lifetime – but the simple mission that Ganguly and co. had set out for themselves almost exactly a month ago is now reaching its finale at Rawalpindi.

The growing popularity of one-dayers notwithstanding, many still believe that Test Matches are the true determinants of superiority of a team. They test a team over two innings and potentially five days and tend to cancel out any imbalance from a flash-in-the pan performance, so likely to cause a one-day upset. I for one, believe both variants of the game have their place – and while spectator value is probably higher in the one-dayers the very thought of the twists that a Test can potentially deliver is a lip-smacking one.

There is less than a day to go now for this last Test. Speculation will continue till the very last moment. Selections on both sides will be analysed and criticized (some may be applauded but I fear this will be drowned in the wave of criticism – decades of selector suspicion have honed the critical skills of us Asians and we have no qualms about being very vocal about them either). The pitch will be discussed to death. The “match fixing” subject (something that I suppose we will have to live with) will rear its head from time to time.

But one thing is for sure – the future of cricket is safe and in good hands. The hands of the people.

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