‘Fighting for honor’

 Sweating and struggling team India reached Wankhade Stadium Mumbai to ‘fight the epic battle’ and script the memorable victory, outplaying Lankans and lift the ICC World Cup 2011. The long wait of 28 years at long last ended when skipper Dhoni hurled the ball to the maximum and lifted jubilant Indians high on cloud nine. Second time India won the cup. It was in 1983 when India led by Kapil Dev defeated the hot favorite West Indians in Lords London, shocking the cricket world. Shocking because Team India at that time was rated as under-dogs. But as ever the game known for its glorious uncertainty always preserves its last laugh. That no one is ‘favorite’ to her. And that ‘favorites’ are not divinely favored. It is a day of contest where mental toughness and cool and calm nerves make he difference. Where rush of blood sends you packing off and digs you in the grave of ignominy. Remember 2007 and see how the giants pitted against the minnows were degraded to eat the dust. And how over-confidence spiced with arrogance does woolmering (Bob Woolmer, at that time Pakistan cricket teams coach could not bear the shock of being knocked out by the minnow Ireland and suffered a heart attack).

 Of course luck factor too plays a vital role in such a big competition. The four drop catches, none difficult to grab, which reprieved ‘master blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar four times to craft his innings from 27 onwards  to challenging 85, if taken, would have certainly changed the fortunes of the game especially the first catch which Misbah –ul-Haq dropped.

But as they say luck favors the brave, Sachin and other Indian players enjoyed riding over poor fielding of Pakistanis in Mohali semifinal! Cricket, in fact any game, does not know the arithmetics of ifs and buts. Simple, take catches win matches; you don’t you won’t. Pakistan batting line crumbled under pressure. Their performance was not impressive. The lapses in fielding could have got compensated if they had avoided playing irresponsible shots. Anyway with Mohali dancing to Indian victory, Mumbai was not far away. Certainly Dhoni’s men deserved victory. Chasing 275 was not easy task but the splendid way they did it was highly appreciable. More so when the cricket world’s most aggressive but reliable opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virendar Sehwag were dismissed earlier by ferocious Malinga who took wind off the Indian sale and left Indians staggered with score board showing 32 For 2. The young talented pair of Gambhir and Kohli held their nerves, consolidated the innings. The captain’s knock of by Dhoni for which he rightly was adjudged man of the match – was a treat to watch. Promoting himself in the batting order he made willow to talk and silenced his critics. What a cool and calm captain Indian team is blessed with. Team India under highly patient but dynamic leadership of M.S Dhoni deserved the cup and they bagged it.

 Cricket after all is a game. Winning or losing is a part of it. An essential component of sportsmanship. But now from a ‘gentleman’s game’ cricket has got evolved to a frenzy world in which everything from money to ‘honor’ of the country is invested. As it has turned ever-increasing money-minting industry for Corporate Companies, Corporate media, ICC and Cricket Boards of cricket playing world, hysteria is created that takes nations and its people in its grip. Emotions are raised to feverish pitch to make the contest, what should be purely a sports event, seep into our veins as a war between the rival nations. It is as if not a cricketing captain takes to field, he is projected as a warrior who leads his “troops” to get his rivals humbled and defeated. Read the banner head-lines of the news channels screaming for example ‘on 30 March there will be war between India and Pakistan’ or days before final is played in Mumbai: ‘Revenge from Eden Garden – Massacre’. Such and other provocative displaying intoxicates the minds to see MS Dhoni on conquering expedition of Pakistan and wiping out Lankans from face of the planet. In fact, from the very beginning when the national anthem of the two competing teams is played – which represent strands of history, ideology, culture and existence different from each other – the contest is aggravated from an innocuous event of ‘entertainment’ to bitter hostility. Where Shahid Khan Afridi has to win the ‘war’ in Mohali ‘at any cost’, no problem if his “troops” lose it in Mumbai. Hypnotized we “see” Dhoni & Afridi ‘fighting’ to ‘defend’ the ‘honor’ of their nations.
 Thank God, we are now out of the spell the media wizards have woven us into for more than one month. Woken up to realities we are beginning to realize how cruelly and crudely our emotions were black-mailed just to make their fortune-making industry flourish. Dusting off the disturbance and commotion off our mind, we realize nothing has changed. The borders stay there where they were. The law of inertia embraces geographical realities. Even the empty stadia mock at our going mad. Rationality knocks down the cocoon of fantasy we had stuck ourselves in. The Indian Cricket Board declared that it `is giving one crore rupees to each player, in addition to lakhs of rupees they get as fee and as brand ambassadors of companies for ‘making the nation proud ‘ in giving it the glittering World Cup. And how many crores of rupees the Board, the advertising companies and news channels would have had their own coffers filled in?

Madarees  too throw tamashas and their Bacha Jamhooryai does the acrobats but unlike our dukes  in sports never they invoke ‘honor’ of nation in their magic they hook us in. At final analysis our ‘national pride’ melts in bursting into frenzy joy and dancing and horning of vehicles.

 February last economic analyst of India, Anok Prank has made a beautiful observation of Indian economy and levels of discrimination that keeps on increasing on each passing day. In an interview with BBC London Mr. Anok stated that there are three Indians in one India. One, the India of 5% privileged having the economic strength of United Nations, a US India. Second, the India of 15% people with Malaysian type progress, Malaysian India. Third of 80%, Bangladeshi India reeling under in poverty. We can’t but acknowledge the shrewd exploitative knack of the Sultans of the great game. Under the spell they have cast on, see how the aam adma is deriving pleasure from the hoopla, worse from his own miserable state of exploitation. From the hell-hole of hallucination he is driven in, he cheers, kneels down in prayer for the “victory”. Forgetting at the same time that in this nation-honor-defense enterprise he has only sorrows to reap in and wine of impoverishment to drink at. Beyond that the gods he worship belong to US India. Out of the billions showered on ‘national heroes’ he is left with only one question to ask ‘score kya howa?’

 However, one ‘great advantage’ of the ‘glorious’ game is that it fastens entire nation in a bind of oneness. Call it hysteria or ‘national pride’, the bat and ball dispenses “justice”. Removes barricades of low and high. Puts on eel all. And drugs all. From Kanyakumari to Lakhanpore. The great game bridges political distances. ‘Binds a billon strong and converts a traditionally cynical populace into super—positive, nothing short of a miracle…Stirs up the soul and make most stoic Indians experience swelling pride, puffing at the chest and fighting to get out of the throat’, as one reader writer in an English national daily. But why in this oneness and moment of ‘swelling pride’, the people of Kashmir remain terribly alienated? To give New Delhi the shocks when they do the opposite in joy and gloom the game brings to Indians. Why they drift in emotions with the rival Team India has to take on? Why no celebration on having the cup in Indian hands? Is not Kashmir the ‘integral part’ of India, you play the leitmotif of day in day out?