A nation that has got a chance to be out-and-out upbeat

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003, 5:18 [IST]
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Bangalore: A match the world has waited with bated breath, the India-Pakistan encounter at the Centurion is, no doubt, going to be played with a lot of riders attached to it - the most burdensome of them being the political rivalry of the two nations.

No matter what the players say or feel, because of the political reverberation the outcome of the match is going to have, this encounter will be seen by both countries as an opportunity to make a statement.

It is unfortunate that the sentiments of a bitter rivalry across the border should be carried over into a cricket match but be as it may, it is the bitter truth.

However, I would not like to dwell on the political dimension that this game carries but on the wind & surge beneath India's wings going into this encounter.

Not always does India find itself with such an overwhelming surge going into an India-Pakistan match.

I remember, ever since Miandad turned the tide with a last ball six India somehow found itself at the receiving end in most of the ensuing encounters.

It used to be such an agony to see our boys stumble over and over again. No matter how good we were on paper the end result was a heartbreak. We seem to be jinxed when it came to Pakistan. The Pakistanis would somehow pull the rug from under our feet, even seemingly lost matches (for Pakistan) would be snatched from our hands - one really can't forget the Test at Chennai, which we lost despite Sachin's century. So much so, after a while we used to feel a sense of hopelessness when it came down to a match with Pakistan - barring the odd wins we enjoyed here and there; mostly WCs.

However, this time around it all seems so different. There is such an overbearing sense of might that not only are people predicting an Indian win but suggesting that it is going to be a cakewalk.

The Pakistanis are going to get rolled, is the word around. No matter the Akrams, the Akhtars and the Waqars India has the firepower to snuff them all.

Well, not in a long time has the country felt this good going into a match against Pakistan where we are dead-certain that the victory is ours. It can't be any other way is what the nation's saying.

Call it confidence, arrogance or overconfidence but most see it going India's way and little can stop India registering a win against a confidence-lacking Pakistan team.

At a time when the whole country seems to be geared for an Indian win, I would not want to end this piece on a sour note trying to throw in a word of caution telling them how good the Pakistanis are and that when it comes to India they seem to find renewed strength and vigour.

Going by the national mood, I would just like to tell Indian players go and get it done with. You are looking good and continue looking good.


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