Champions Trophy: India’s cricket needs a healthy Pakistan to thrive

India, for all its limited-overs prowess of the recent decade, is still not complete without a Pakistan regularly in the mix


Watching Mohammad Amir’s first three overs Sunday night which lopped off the cream of the Indian batting, somehow you weren’t struck so much by the emerging big-match failure of the Indians than the fact that a rare talent’s spellbinding potency was something we should regularly demand as Indian fans of the game.

Because somewhere, India, for all its limited-overs prowess of the recent decade, is still not complete without a Pakistan regularly in the mix. It’s something that even our cricketers, current and past (despite the largely poor-taste tweets) know fully too well. It must constantly niggle somewhere that in all India’s stroke-making and run-accumulating, little of it has come against the quality and challenge provided by our original cricketing rivals.

Joined at the hip, Indian cricket is so much poorer without Pakistan as is world cricket without a substantial West Indies. That is something the powers need to understand.

If scorelines so simply redeemed past hurts, then there would be no meaning in sport and the myths it gives birth to – the gritty victory, the great upset, or like happened on Sunday, a breezy phase of sporting brilliance that simply took everyone’s breaths away. That it was Pakistan, doing what only they can do on their day, greatly revived that rapidly-eroding idea of joy, craft and romance in cricket.

Some teams and individuals can effortlessly enhance the rhythm of a contest. When on song, Pakistan were cricket’s original music makers and rebel poets rolled into one. Somewhere, along the way, they forgot who they are and we, as moneyed masters of unequal sporting world, were only too happy to shelve them.In 2004, a much-troubled West Indies carved out a similar triumph in the same tournament. It was completely un-West Indian in that they grafted their way to the title, perhaps mirroring the long-running depletion of depth in the islands. Yet, it was seen as big enough to spark off a cricketing re-revolution. Nearly, a decade and half later, we all know how it all went down.

The once-mighty West Indies, having lost its ethos to lack of money and the growing idea of the cricketing mercenary, was not even missed this time. Pakistan, after long, on Sunday, were telling us – and themselves – of a similar belief and what they can be. It felt warm and old-world nice.On Sunday, every Pakistani cricketer spoken to by the commentators after their win, remembered, in the euphoria of victory, to remind the world how there was no international cricket at home and how this isolation was proving so damaging. Mighty India may have only suffered a minor blip in their awesome ICC record, but the significance of this Pakistan triumph far outweighs over all those grand numbers India has diligently notched up of late.
With this Champions Trophy victory, they seem to have finally found a voice and with it, that much-needed credibility. They need to be heard now. It’s time, the world of cricket stopped to listen.


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