Cricket pushes elections to the back burner

Published: Saturday, April 17, 2004, 19:18 [IST]
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New Delhi:The Indian press was euphoric, heaping praise on the cricket team which clocked a maiden Test series win against Pakistan on their rivals' soil and their first overseas victory in a decade.

National dailies splashed front-page pictures of a jubilant Indian team celebrating their 2-1 Test victory over their archrivals under headlines such as "Spirited win, India high" and the "Cup of joy runs over."

"How sweet it is!" exclaimed the Hindustan Times. The Tribune newspaper headlined its piece "We have done it," adding "Indians create Test history on Pakistani soil."

The photographs of an ecstatic Indian team were juxtaposed with those of the visibly distraught Pakistani skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq.

As Indians blearily woke up from a night of firecrackers and partying, they opened newspapers to glowing sports reports which pushed aside news of national elections starting on Tuesday.

The Indian team's visit -- the first full tour of Pakistan in 15 years -- came as part of confidence-building measures to normalise ties upset by a bitter conflict in Kashmir in 1999 and another near-war in 2002.

Pakistan issued visas to more than 8,000 Indian fans to watch the series of five One-day matches between the two sides, which India won 3-2.

The Hindu newspaper said India's double win made it one of the "two strongest powers in international cricket," the first being Australia.

But at the same time, it lauded the Pakistanis' hospitality and "the absence of anything resembling national chauvinism on either side."

"High-level sporting contests, which hold millions in thrall, can help the political process of normalising and improving relations between the peoples of India and Pakistan," The Hindu said.

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