WC 2003 - Pakistan~~s defeat evokes subdued response back home

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2003, 22:46 [IST]
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Islamabad: In a muted and subdued reaction to its cricket team's worst ever World Cup defeat to traditional rivals India, the Pakistan media avoided a hard-hitting stance and restricted itself to rhetoric-free staid match reports.The media's posture has something to do with the grim possibility of Pakistan still qualifying for the Super Sixes and extracting revenge from India in the semi-finals or final.And it is this remote possibility alone which seems to have spared its team and the military-dominated cricket establishment of an impending crisis. Extremely guarded in its analysis of the high-voltage match, the media in general praised the heroics of Sachin Tendulkar while criticising the wayward Pakistani attack. Spirits here ran high when Pakistan finally shook of its miserable batting form and made 273 runs with Saeed Anwar making a century. But a pall of gloom descended soon after the blitzkrieg launched by Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag on the famed pace bowling of Pakistan's trio of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis. Commentators and former cricketers repeatedly made mention over various television channels that Pakistan still had a faint chance to qualify for super sixes if it defeated Zimbabwe and then took on India again either in semis orfinal of the World Cup. The commentators, including former top cricketers like Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Intikhab Alam, also prepared the ground for the impending defeat by stressing how Pakistan had an uphill task in playing against the famed Indian batting which had peaked at the right time.Disappointed fans interviewed on the streets by the TV channels directed their ire in particular at the pace trio and Waqar's captaincy. But there was stray praise for the way the Indian batting delivered when it mattered most. "Pakistan should have defeated India. We desperately wanted a victory as it would have kept our team's hopes alive in the tournament," a dejected cricket fan said. Switching off their television sets in disgust, groups of angry youth were seen making disparaging comments on their top cricketers. The papers for their part mostly carried the story in a dour fashion. "Indian ace outclasses Pakistan pace", read the headline of 'The News' praising Tendulkar's great knock.Another story was headlined "Pakistan team disappoints millions of fans".The daily carried a half page picture of Saurav Ganguly and Waqar Younis shaking hands and exchanging ties before the match. "India outclasses Pakistan" read the headline in 'The Dawn' with photographs of Tendulkar and Saeed Anwar. "Tendulkar's marvellous 98 overshadowed Saeed Anwar's magnificent century to maintain India's dominance over Pakistan in the World Cup," 'The Dawn' said."It was a bitter pill to swallow. But it is a comprehensive win by India against Pakistan," said an emotionally surcharged Gati Aslam, anchoring a talk show with Miandad and another former Pakistan cricketer Haroon Rashid, soon after the match. Miandad, while strongly critical of Pakistan cricketers' inability to challenge the aggression of the Indian batsmen, specially praised Tendulkar for his great innings as well as the clinical fashion with which the Indians went about replying to Pakistan's 273 runs. "While India won today, I see the match as a win for cricket. The ultimate winner today is good cricket," Miandad said. "The Indians approached to score 273 runs in text book fashion. This is how it should be done. This is the way to play cricket," Miandad said. Miandad was of the view that India and Pakistan should play more often as it was the best way to reduce tensions between the two countries. "We should play more cricket together to learn more," he said.Former cricket selector Col Naushad Ali said, The approach of Pakistani fielders in chasing and stopping the ball was deplorable. This gives an indication that the team coach, Richard Pybus of South Africa, has not given enough attention to fielding," he said. PTI

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