Winning the World Cup is important, defeating Pakistan is not

  • Indian people and media must benchmark country’s performance with the best in the world and stop being obsessed with defeating Pakistan in cricket. 
  • Know about history of Indo-Pak cricket relations, how India has changed since  2000 & more.

Like in the Asia Cup earlier this year, India defeated Pakistan in the opening T20 World Cup game only to exit later.


It is as if winning against Pakistan and not the CUP was the primary objective of the Indian cricket team.


Years ago in World Cup match (50 over) in England years the then captain Azharuddin, fearing a backlash for poor performance, seemed to say that having defeated Pakistan the criticism would now be muted.


Notwithstanding that victory and loss are part of the game, there is a deeper malaise that affects Indian fans, electronic media and cricket.


Because they are seen as traditional rivals like Australia-England and the media hype around the match, any Indo-Pak cricket encounter is seen as a do or die for the Indian cricket team. Such thinking was apt in the 1990’s and 1980’s but not thereafter. Here is why.   


Indo-Pak cricket matches were resumed in the late 1980s. Pakistan won against India regularly. Imran Khan’s outstanding performance in the 1992 home series, Mohinder Amarnath’s batting then and the last ball six by Javed Miandad in Sharjah are most remembered. 


But things changed when Saurav Ganguly led team defeated Pakistan in Pakistan in the 2003-04 test series and ODI’s. “Virender Sehwag earned the nickname 'Multan ka Sultan' after scoring 309 in first test in Multan.” Source Thereafter, India beat Pakistan regularly.   


Also see Pictures of 2003-04 India tour to Pakistan


When cricketing ties were resumed in the 1980s India and Pakistan were in an economic sense, perceived to be more at par and simultaneously, India was a victim of Pakistan sponsored terrorism.


Whilst Pakistan was busy exporting terror, Indian software companies successfully helped the West deal with Y2K at the turn of the century.  


This success followed by Team India’s victory in the 2003-4 series plus the growth rates experienced during NDA1 and UPA1 changed the way the world looked at India and importantly the way Indians looked at themselves. There was renewed confidence after the Balakot Air Strikes and producing vaccines for the world during the pandemic.


So economically India has moved on and aims to become a $ 5 trillion economy whilst Pakistan is reeling under debts, carries a tag of being an exporter of terrorism and politically unstable.

Thus, Indians fans and team should have stopped seeing Indo-Pak matches as do or die but such is the hype that Indians failed to change their thinking.


This puts avoidable pressure on the players and victory against Pakistan is important notwithstanding what happens thereafter. India has not won an ICC event since the 2013 Champions Trophy.


What surprises me is why Indians continue to celebrate cricket match victory over Pakistan esp. when we have defeated them often post 2004?


The reality is that ever since India became independent Pakistan has, due to wars and terrorism, occupied India’s mind space in a manner that is disproportionate to its size and potential.  


Indians must raise the bar and compare themselves with the best in the world. Not only in cricket but in all walks of life.


India’s political leadership have got over Pakistan and realized who the real enemy is but fans and media are still stuck in the Pakistan time warp. Aspirations have otherwise gone up in India but in cricket beating Pakistan is still important. That needs to change. 


This author is not a cricket expert but a few observations.


Earlier cricket was played for a few months of the year. Today it is played round the year. Plus there is lucrative IPL. Thus, players are under pressure to perform all year round. There is little time to relax and re-charge.


At Adelaide the Indian bowling attack looked tired and jaded. The frontline batsman forgot that even in the T20 form of the game there is merit in building an innings and taking the one’s and the two’s. It is always not about hitting a boundary or six to excite fans and improve television ratings. 


I have always been a big fan of Rahul Dravid. His cool and focused style worked then but today a bit of aggression and out of the box thinking is needed.


Inspite of failing to win major tournaments criticism against the Indian team is muted. In the 2019 World Cup semi-final the Indian team performed badly against New Zealand. It was sought to be justified by saying that India played ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’. Today, earlier failures are forgotten when a player performs thereafter. Fans loose balance and go overboard in praise. 


Also read Gavaskar questions Kohli’s continuation as skipper post World Cup 2019


Post India’s world cup (50 over) victory in 2011, I wrote Eight Management Lessons from Dhoni for UPA for Here are some relevant learnings.


“Indian pace bowler Ashish Nehra had not done well in earlier games but had performed well against Pakistan in the World Cup semi-finals. Critics wanted Ashwin to play but Dhoni insisted on Nehra who reposed the captain's faith by bowling superbly.


One, Dhoni does not allow old ways of thinking to prevent him from taking unconventional decisions, knowing very well that only some might work.


In the post-match conference after India had won the World Cup on April 2, former India captain-turned-TV-commentator Ravi Shastri asked Dhoni why he chose to bat ahead of the man in form, all-rounder Yuvraj Singh. Dhoni said that after he was convinced of the idea, he spoke to coach Gary Kirsten and the seniors before going ahead. He understands the importance of drawing from seniors' experience and wisdom. This way they feel valued, he invites their blessings and thus builds teamwork.


Two, a person who has innate confidence in himself tends to have a collaborative approach.


Three, Dhoni heard criticism, probably reflected on it, but converted it into positive energy and let performance speak. He is a quiet worker.”


In view of round the year cricket and the game’s commercialisation the BCCI must change mind sets and re-think its approach to the game. A bit of Indic spirituality might help.


Also read

1. Why has democracy failed in Pakistan

2. Are China and Pakistan Siamese Terror Twins

3. Takeaways from Balakot Air Strikes

4. The Holy Gita is a guide to one’s life

5. Saankya Yoga – Yog of Knowledge

6. The Spiritual Response

7. How to preserve your Energy

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