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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Columns > Sujata Prakash

War in pajamas

February 28, 2003

The World Cup is now in its third week. Roughly 32 matches have been played so far. Some have been mundane, some electric, and some downright bizarre. But none of them have generated the heart-thumping excitement an India-Pakistan clash does. On Saturday the subcontinent will come to a standstill and, for the first time, sponsors will note with glee that ratings have touched maximum levels.

The Indians will go into this match as favorites, but only slightly. No one can underestimate the Pakistanis, the saying goes. No one should discount their adrenalin levels either, when pitted against India. A sick man will suddenly develop a spring in his stride if given the choice of bed rest versus bloodbath. The incessant din of an adoring crowd works like an elixir after all. A loss will withdraw that adoration swiftly enough, leaving only derision in its wake, but the rewards of a win are tantalizing enough to brush the risk aside.

Pakistan will look for those rewards desperately tomorrow. It needs a win to go further in the tournament, and it needs to do it in style to regain the self respect lost in the past few weeks. A win over India will probably inject them with enough euphoria to reach the semi finals.

It is this backs-to-the-wall desperation that might turn out to be the X factor that spoils the party for the Indians, who are on a roll. Traditionally, the Indians have never quite managed to muster up the full-throated war cry the Pakistanis bring onto the field with them. A touch of complacency might have crept in too, knowing that they will in all likelihood go through to the Super Sixes.

However, if Pakistan wins both its games, and England defeats Australia, then India, Pakistan and England will end up tied with 16 points each. There are other convoluted ways to reach the same result. The last thing the Indians want, after such outstanding performances, is to be at the mercy of net run rate at the end of it all.

Mercifully, everything seems to be gelling for Sourav Ganguly when he needed it most. The bowling continues to impress further with each passing day. The middle order is still struggling, but the dark days of the batting line-up being swallowed by pace bowling inside of the 40th over is a thing of the past.

But -- a past that is too recent to relegate to the archives section.

The best of intentions can falter when faced with an opposition that feeds its hunger on a name: India. Vanquishing India has a sweetness all its own, and the Pakistanis will do all they can to undermine the Indians' new found form. The memo will have gone out: target the batsmen with hostile bowling and gleaming eyes.

Players like Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid will relish the challenge. They have passed this particular test of character many times. The younger ones, never having experienced such tempests, will either get cowed or dazedly find reserves of strength they never knew they possessed. Either way it will leave them hankering for more of the same. Just like it will us. India /Pakistan clashes are like that -- one is never sure if it's cricket out there, or war in pajamas.

Mail Sujata Prakash

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Number of User Comments: 2




Sub: kudos to India!!!!!!!!!

I think the Indian cricket team played extremly well in beating Pakistan today.Sachin batted like a dream.But Ganguly and Mongia are total misfits in the ...


Posted by SUNIL DASWANEY





Sub: success

i am shore that india going to win this match with good performance and best attack pace. sachin and ganguly will do best in this ...


Posted by mangesh kumthekar




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