By Aruj Sipra
I grew up in a country where cricket is the main sporting event and a match between arch rivals India and Pakistan virtually becomes a matter of life and death. As the Cricket World Cup is about to begin and both teams face each other in their very first match of the tournament, I have already started to feel the heat as the event and trash talk among fans has generated some sparks! The match day is celebrated like some festival – Families and friends get together, flags, streamers are all up and not to forget the food delicacies that are served. In fact, it is party time whether we watch the game on TV in the comfort of our homes or in the stadium.
Originating in England somewhere in 15th century, cricket has become the heart and soul of the Indian Subcontinent where three countries India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been crowned as the World Champions. It is clichéd to say people from the subcontinent are crazy about cricket, but truth is that they have few alternatives. Despite having an inferior infrastructure, the subcontinent has produced some astounding cricketers emerging from remote areas of the country and making their name in international arena.
Cricket World Cup 2015
The Cricket World Cup 2015 will be the 11th one, scheduled to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from 14th February to 29th March, 2015. The last time they hosted was the Benson and Hedges World Cup in 1992.
This time there are 49 matches spread over 43 days, 14 teams and an estimated global TV audience of over 1 billion; it is of course dwarfed by the Olympics or the Soccer World Cup.
The India–Pakistan cricket match is scheduled for Sunday February 15 in Adelaide. It will start at 2pm local time, 10 pm EST on Saturday February 14, for those in this part of the world. It is going to be one intense match!
The last time India-Pakistan played each other, it was referred to as ‘The Mother of all Battles’ and India triumphed on that day. Pakistan has never won a World Cup fixture against India, who has won all the five games since they first met in 1992. Let’s see how these two teams again stand before this battle begins!
The upcoming India-Pakistan match has been estimated to attract up to three hundred million television viewers, according to TV ratings firm Initiative. I was surprised to read that Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be sitting with Kapil Dev in the commentary box for this game. Pakistan will have Shoaib Akhtar as their commentator for this match. The Indians sure know how to boost their team and their viewership rating.
Now how do we react while watching the match? Emotions run high every time the South Asian neighbors clash on a cricket ground. Many of their fans would not mind their team crashing out from the World Cup early, providing they beat their neighbours. They say that a match is not over till the last ball has been bowled. Spectators in the stadium and the audience watching on the television tend to get nervous .Their blood pressure starts to rise. They get fidgety. They sit at the edge of their seats, one hand gripping a rosary, while another holding a handkerchief for the sweat, or tears to come. This means patience is paramount for any fan and true enough, patience surely gets tested in this encounter.
Coming back to the teams, if there is a team in world cricket that defies the odds, confounds expectations and regularly pulls a superlative display out of its bag of mixed tricks, it has to be Team Pakistan.
Team India has its strength in its batting lineup. Since the recent changes in rules tend to favor the batsman rather than the bowler, India would have an edge provided their batting clicks on the day.
Imran Khan, the Pakistan captain who led Team Pakistan to its first and thus far only World Cup, predicted that ‘The team that is going to win is the one that does its homework the best by studying its opponents.’
India has won two World Cups, in 1984 and 2011, and Pakistan just once in 1992. Most of the senior players have retired and both teams are relatively young having their strengths and weakness but that will not stop their hunger for becoming the World Champions once again. As fans and spectators we should encourage our teams and enjoy the game and the big event regardless of the outcome. Remember it is just a GAME!
About the author:
Aruj Sipra is the Community Manager at MuslimMoms.ca. She’s been a die-hard cricket fan since childhood. She writes on cricket and the World Cup as a tribute to her father, the late Imtiaz Sipra, a renowned sports journalist and the Sports Editor of ‘The News.’ He had toured Australia and New Zealand with the Pakistani team in 1992 for the very same tournament that saw Pakistan win the cup in a thrilling and dramatic fashion.