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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

The Five-Day War

India-Pakistan cricket fed a chauvinist imperative for decades. The liberal wind in the willows changed all that.

The Five-Day War
P. Anil Kumar
The Five-Day War
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

A small-time cricketer, but a passionate observer, I have watched Indo-Pak cricket since 1947. I have seen many India-Pakistan matches, from the one in Amritsar under Imran, to the 1996 World Cup Bangalore ODI, and the amazing Chennai Test match.

Both authors have relied on other books for their material, with a few observations and opinions of their own. It is true that the first forty years of the Indo-Pak encounter offered the dreariest cricket you saw. A large degree of nationalistic pride was involved, accompanied by a morbid fear of losing. Pitches were stone dead; unfortunately they continue to be so. Umpires strained every spectator’s belief, Shakoor Rana being the most notorious. We were not blameless, but perhaps more subtle. Playing safe meant interminable plodding, resulting in monumentally boring Test centuries. My vivid memory of Bapu Nadkarni’s bowling: his analysis would invariably read 45 overs, 35 maidens, 29 runs, and maybe a wicket, largely because the batsman’s brain had been dulled by the on-field somnolence. The T-20 tullebaazi has at least put an end to this farce.

Both authors have talked of the Pentangular Tournaments in Bombay, based on Hindu, Muslim, Parsi, and Christian teams. Gandhiji rightly attacked the idea of religion-based teams. Shaharyar has weakly defended it, and Shashi has correctly criticised it. Religious identity in sports could only exacerbate differences. The tournaments did produce strong rivalries and exciting cricket, but had obvious negative effects. I have heard of pre-Partition hockey matches between Khalsa College, Amritsar, and Islamia College, Lahore, where chauvinism could not be avoided. I admired Vijay Hazare. All I knew was that he scored a century in each innings at Adelaide, with cotton gloves, and a cloth cap, against Lindwall...

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