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June - July 2004


India Sport Scene

India - Pakistan Cricket Match: A Historic Win for India

by Ramesh Seedhar


Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cited the Indian cricket team, that created history by winning the test and one day series in Pakistan in April as the ideal example of Hindu -Muslim harmony in the country. "There are Muslims in the team but I did not notice any difference" the Prime Minister, who is an ardent cricket fan, told a group of Muslim leaders who called on him at his official residence to express their support for the cricket team..."All players were wearing the same colour, the colour of brotherhood" he said and added that every Indian was equally elated at the team's victory.

This was India's first tour of Pakistan for 15 years, and had been a close fought encounter with outcome depending on the final game in both the one day and the test series. The historic win, away from the home, sent the country in a rapture of celebration. The celebrations were not restricted to India. In the dressing room of Rawalpindi cricket stadium, Sourav Ganguly did not wait for long to open a bottle of champagne. He was so overwhelmed that he tore open the seal with his teeth before popping the cork V.V.S Laxman grabbed the bottle and poured the bubbly over Ganguly's head as widely cheering team mates erupted in joy.

Along with champagne, bhangra was also in full flow as Yuvraj Singh broke into an impromptu bhangra where he was joined by Virendra Shewag. Such was the euphoria that two most respected members of the Indian squad, Coach John Wright and Sachin Tendulkar also joined the fun with the New Zealander actually smiling for a long time. The Indian dressing room celebrations were long and loud while the scene in the neighbouring Pakistan camp was a total contrast. The Pakistani coach, the old fox Javed Miandad was slumped in a chair and was a picture of despair.

Before the start of the series Javed Miandad had boasted of Pakistan's formidable bowling line up and the favourable home conditions. Unfortunately it did not work and now it was time to reflect. Not far sat Shoaib Akhtar, the Rawilpindi express from whom much was expected. Shoaib Akhtar had bowled brilliantly in spells but in three tests took only seven wickets, each costing him nearly 43 runs. Inzamam Ul Haq the gentle giant and Pakistan team captain, whose sportsmanship and batting throughout the one day as well as the test series was commendable, candidly admitted that India were a superior side and played as team.

The burly English umpire David Shepherd and his South African counterpart Rudi Noertzen who stood in the test series spoke of the great spirit in which the series was played. They also commented the sportsmanship of both sides.

The excellent spirit in which the matches were played and watched, plus the Indian team's triumph, will do no harm to the Prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as he seeks a fourth successive victory in the Indian elections.

The tour had a political significance that goes well beyond bald statistics. It had brought home to ordinary people on either side of border what they have in common: a passion for cricket. They also share racial and cultural attributes and a mutual desire to transcend the hostility sealed by the partition of India in 1947.

The politicians and in particular the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, created the conditions for this rapprochement, but it was the cricketers, heroes in their respective countries, who have given it popular momentum.

The Pakistan embassy in New Delhi issued 8,000 visas for the matches. Among the visitors at the first one day game in Karachi, were the daughter of Jinnah and the great grandson and great grand daughter of Jawahar Lal Nehru founders of Pakistan and modern India.

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