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Friday, Aug 12, 2022
Outlook.com
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Twenty20 Final

More Than Just Cricket?

This one game, lasting less than four hours, was supposed to be more than just cricket. But I really wonder if it will water the drying fields of the game in Pakistan. Twenty20 cricket, bereft of drama, twists and turns only the longer game can pro

More Than Just Cricket?
More Than Just Cricket?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Well, it’s not easy to say, perhaps we require to put the weight of time on the scale to find an answer.

Many commentators have written in romantic tones about what this one match might represent, and it’s indeed a story worthy of unbridling one’s imagination about – a bloody civil war in Sri Lanka, a near-civil war in Pakistan. These were the two teams targeted in a daring attack in Lahore outside the cricket stadium. Pakistan became a pariah, the golden nugget of the 2011 World Cup taken away from it and handed to its neighbours. How fitting it is that they fought for the most coveted Cup of the times!

Yet, there was a sense of emptiness about this game – there was nothing to match the thrillers India and Pakistan played in South Africa in 2007. Or even the ones played by India against England and South Africa. Or like some played during this event itself.

Twenty20 cricket, bereft of drama, twists and turns only the longer game can provide, needs close finishes, last-over fights, preferably last-ball endings. In this final, once Sri Lanka were reduced to 32 for four, and then 70 for six, the result was scarcely in doubt. When it became slightly tight late in the Pakistan innings, with 26 needed off 18 balls, Shahid Afridi took 18 off Isuru Udana, and the game was up.

Pakistan won at a canter, by eight wickets, and using eight balls less than available. Lord’s, a sea of green spangled with the blue of the Sri Lankans, raised a tumult when Afridi biffed the ball, and at the end when he raised his arms aloft and became still as a statue as Pakistan won. Many spectators had paid 250 pounds and above for the tickets and while they cheered lustily, they regretted they were denied the opportunity of suffering heart seizures – the game wasn’t close enough.

While the romantics would be delighted with this match – "cricket won", after all – it’s uncertain what the takeaway is for the finalists. Sri Lanka had one bad day in the whole tournament and paid for it – it doesn’t seem quite right. Pakistan, on the other had, had bad days aplenty before the final and won – and no one would grudge them this.

Yet, this one game, lasting less than four hours, was supposed to be more than just cricket. But I really wonder if it will water the drying fields of the game in Pakistan. The talent Pakistan produces is always outstanding, but the game there is stricken due to what’s euphemistically called the "security situation", and the Pakistan Cricket Board is waging war with the International Cricket Committee, who has taken away the World Cup 2011 games from it.

It’s a triumph, true, but it’s uncertain what it can do for cricket in Pakistan. Sport possesses great power – as became clear when South Africa voted out apartheid – but does it have the power to convince extremists? I wish it had, but I fear it does not.

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