There’s an ad on TV – cashing in on the sentiment that an India Pakistan encounter evokes. The one playing across the border is a step ahead and has stirred the pot. Both ads have their fan base and critics. However, the one that is playing in Pakistan is inspired from a topical event that saw both the countries come face to face and the ‘escalation’ – the term that they use when two countries are waiting for the other to blink in a war-like situation – lasted a good few days.
A full-blown war, thankfully, did not happen but since then the normalcy has not been restored. All that is political but since when have India Pakistan relations been just about politics? It’s much more than that. And during such heightened times, the teams are ready to face-off at an event where Pakistan have not managed to beat India. They have tried 6 times.
And this is where it turns into a story that everyone loves talking about. Social media warriors indulge in cheeky memes, sometimes things get ugly too. Experts shout their hearts out. And the line between nationalism and jingoism is thrown into a dustbin.
This is not the first time these two teams are going to face each other on field while their soldiers keep their fingers on the trigger. The last time something like this happened was when both the countries were indulged in a full-fledged war in Kargil. But things are different this time.
In the age of internet and social media, scrutiny will be tougher and brutal. Pressure unimaginable and suggestions to not lose at any cost will rear their heads often than required. There will be parallels drawn with the armed forces. After all, it’s not just a cricket match. Not when it’s with Pakistan. Not when so much has happened on the border.
So far, the Indian team, particularly the captain, has been logical about the whole debate. PR-curated, well-rehearsed clichés like ‘just another’ match has dominated the press conferences. His Pakistani counterpart Sarfaraz Ahmed has been a little more acknowledging of what this means. After losing the game against Australia, Sarfaraz claimed that his side will give it all against India.
Pakistan, since their win in the final of 2017 Champions Trophy, have often claimed that the monkey is off their back and they are ready to break the jinx against India in the World Cup. For India, there is more at stake. While the game against Pakistan has a sentimental value and may catapult their confidence sky-high but there’s more to the tournament than just this game.
Kohli is totally justified with his logical approach and one can see how he is trying to create a calm atmosphere in a team where a few players don’t have the experience of playing against Pakistan at this level. It’s clear that both teams are approaching the game differently. India’s tactics have worked in the past and are likely to help them once again. However, as a captain he would do well to at least ensure that the team is mindful of the emotionally-charged environment back home.
Pakistan know that at the end of the day it might just come down to whether they beat India or not. A win against the arch-rivals at the World Cup will purge all their sins – not just cricket wise but on other fronts as well including that high-pitched political drama that ensured that the match on 16th June is not just any other match!