The Cricket World Cup is now at its summit. The final four will battle it out in the middle to make it to the 'all important final." It"s befitting that the hosts have made it this far, proving that in the 50 over format, talent lies with the teams from Asia (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) . And if one were to extend that view, a team from Australasia too (New Zealand) !
It would be safe to say that the 2011 edition of the Cricket world cup has been one of surprises and unpredictable passages of play. The 20 over World Champions England lost to the lesser teams Ireland and Bangladesh, the much troubled Pakistan emerged as a mentally strong side. India the favourites to win the cup had their share of almost banana skin games and the power house Australia had a flawless league stage only to fail at the quarter final zone. The West Indies showed mettle to make it to the final eight, but the farcical display of cricket in the quarter final versus Pakistan was an exercise in disrespect for the game. It is indeed a shame that at this level the West Indians chose to play in that fashion. There were no surprises on the teams that made it to the final eight, but the games were expected to be real crackers. The one encounter that came close to being a truly exciting affair was the India v Australia game that saw the scales going up and down in dramatic fashion.
The past is the past and now all eyes are on the much awaited match up between the arch rivals India and Pakistan in the second semi final. Over the past few years relations between the two nations have been far from normal. To romanticize the occasion one adds the veneer of 'cricket love" and makes a big deal of the impending match. There is no denying that the India Pakistan games are huge crowd pullers and befittingly this semi final is being played in the heartland of Punjab. The state that felt the tragedy of partition the most.
It is but natural that the Pakistani cricketers would feel much at home as would their adoring fans. The language, the food , the basic hospitality all mirror each other beautifully. The picturesque 'Mohali Stadium" will once again welcome Pakistani spectators to add to the theatre. And on the night of the 30th of March 2011, there will be one winner, one loser and a delightful blend of happy - sad.
India have been, are and will always be the nation with the most. Pakistan just has to accept this. The fanatic, uneducated and narrow minded lot will never see reason but this is not about them. This is about Cricket . It is about a World Cup semi final that is being played in an incredible country. This is about talent, about determination, about strong over weak. This is Cricket rivalry at its best.
One team knows that a million hearts , thousands of positive thoughts and vibes will be with them. And all one can say right now is – JAI HO!!