They Are Back

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The India-Pakistan cricket series comes to a close and I, for one, am wallowing in languid satisfaction: a state of mind I desperately failed to attain the last time we toured Pakistan, even though in 2004 (unlike what happened in 2006) we clobbered them then in what really matters– the Test matches.

On the face of it, this seems rather strange. The first two Tests in the 2006 series were insipid, lifeless slogfests and the last one was a humiliating defeat for the Men in Blue (And no I am not rejoicing in that—despite the fact that being a Ganguly fan and so by extension non-patriotic, I am supposed to do so.) The ODI series was also a vapid no-contest with India dominating match-after-match so much so that individually counting each hair in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Samsonian mane would perhaps have been more exciting.

So then what’s the “feel good” here about?

Precisely the fact that we were not subject to “the universal brotherhood” bonhomie we had to sit through the last time. Pakistani supporters cheering the Indian team, people with Indian and Pakistani flags painted on their cheeks—the saccharinity of it all made me want to go into a diabetic coma. It seemed so fake—a disturbance of cosmic equilibrium on the scale of a wife saying that her mother-in-law is her best friend or a husband saying he has eyes only for his wife.

Yes it was that unconvincing.

The Pakistan I love are that bunch of uber-gifted cricketers — arrogant, brutal street-fighters who enjoy nothing more than to humiliate their opponents when they are on top, unfailingly make excuses when they lose, and who, most of all, will adopt any method—fair and foul to win. And the Pakistani crowd I love are the ones who have elevated taunting Indians to a fine art, shout “Allah ho Akbar Pakistan jeetega” even when all hope is lost and who go deadly silent when a Pakistani wicket falls.

The Pakistan of Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz who once bowled bouncers that cleared the batsmen’s head by a distance so as to deprive India of a victory (In those days bouncers were not called wides). The Pakistan of Javed Miandad who would keep on trash-talking Indians and bringing in religion and politics while our gentle lambs tried to bat. The Pakistan of Wasim Akram who on being defeated by India in World Cup 98 99 (thanks Pratyush) brushed it away by saying:” We took this match as a practice match” (as if the Indians deserved no respect as opponents–and this too when they had lost !) The Pakistan where in 1990 when Prabhakar had the Pakistani top order on the mat, the crowd erupted, the police conveniently turned the other way and the match was abandoned.

The Pakistan of sexual arrogance—Imran Khan comes to India, reportedly becomes “friends” with Zeenat Aman and then adds one more to his trophy chest. Mohsin Khan conquers Reena Roy and then kicks her out. Wasim Akram has a torrid affair with Dimple Kapadia and also reputedly dumps her (source: Stardust magazines I used to read in the barber’s shop). Shahid Afridi brags about bedding a star or two and someone as insignificant as Yaseer Hameed says:

“If Aishwarya Rai or Preity Zinta [Indian actresses] come for the match, ask them to come and meet me.”

Yes they shall come to meet the great Yaseer Hameed. Now that’s confidence for you.

This is the Pakistan I have grown to love and admire—-one which I felt I had lost in 2004 with the shouts of “Balaji Balaji”, the thunderous applause when India took a wicket and Inzi’s gentle Paddington-bear demeanor at post-match conferences which lacked the arrogance and “up yours” attitude that Imran, Miandad and Wasim Akram brought to the podium.

I spent sleepless nights thinking— has Pakistan ultimately decided to take to heart the patented Indian dictum that “participation is the main thing and not winning” and that the competitive sports is all about character-building and honor?

Frankly I think the Indian attitude sucked—the way we always take the high moral ground of being morally-upright “gentlemen” while standing on the loser’s stand. I was aghast when our captain allowed the patently un-injured Saeed Anwar take a runner just because he wanted to concentrate his energy on thrashing the devil out of Anil Kumble during the Independence Cup.(He did not sustain an injury during the duration of play which is the only reason why you can have a runner).

No Pakistani skipper worth his salt would ever accord an Indian the same privilege.

But in 2004, the Pakistan team and crowd that I saw had come dangerously close to this ideal.

However 2006 has re-affirmed the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. While cricket experts like Bishen Singh Bedi, in his column, kept on pulling down the Indian team (true to form), the Pakistani trash-talk-experts, who had retired from active duty, put on their media caps for one more piss-match on India.

Miandad was consistently dismissive about India and Moin Khan essayed a master-class stoke when he wrote that Sachin “walked” because he was afraid of Chuckta’s pace. This was then followed by a mad scramble from the Indian press-wallahs to parrot Moin Khan –in the process writing off Sachin Tendulkar as Endulkar —-and I laughed the laugh of the vindicated. Yes things were the same again—united Pakistanis trash-talking, gentle Indians backbiting.

Shahid Afridi, who like Dev Anand is forever “Main Solah Baras Ki” and whose brother (unlike Dev Anand’s) is a freedom-fighter in Kashmir, wonders aloud to Irfan Pathan if his deliveries will ever reach the batsman’s side of the pitch. That’s what I am talking about. Throughout the series he keeps up his reputation as a taunting motor-mouth and God knows how much pitch tampering he did….after all once he had been caught by the TV cameras during the English series I am sure he would be a bit more careful while engaging in similar acts of sportsmanship.

Shoaib Chukhtar unleashes a beamer at Dhoni. I am beside myself with glee. Sachin Tendulkar gets stones thrown at him….beautiful. In orkut discussion groups, Pakistani supporters heap abuse on Indians as cow-worshiping, piss-drinkers and blood is now flowing back in my veins. This is the real stuff.

Inzi who it seems suffers from the conundrum “Leave the ball is I am out, touch is the ball I am out” and is blissfully unaware of the rules of cricket (may have something to do with him reportedly hiring a person to run his runs in lower grade cricket—someone else perhaps also learnt the rules for him) obstructs the ball in order to prevent himself from being run out. India appeals and he is given out–obstructing the field.

And then, in a true Pakistani twist, Inzi accuses the Indians of being unsportsmanlike in appealing for a dismissal where in the first place, he was being unsportsmanlike by obstructing the ball ! True to form, Moin Khan jumps in —with both of these fine sportsmen forgetting how they had appealed successfully against Sachin Tendulkar in Calcutta, 1999 when Sachin’s bat had gone into the air after a collision with Shoaib Chukhtar—which was a genuine accident because Sachin was not attempting a run (unlike in 2006 when Inzamam did not block the ball accidentally but very deliberately)

This is what Pakistan stands for and I admire them for it—-their focus on victory…wait not just victory but in rubbing their opposition’s face in the mud. They are here to win the game and not a popularity contest.

Which is why I just could not reconcile myself with the Pakistan of 2004. After all the last thing I wanted was the blood-and-sweat descent into hell that a Indo-Pak cricket match is to turn into a politically correct, chess duel between two old gentlemen on a park bench catching the last rays of the sun on a lazy November afternoon.

But I had been overtly apprehensive. All is well again.

[Here is something I wrote on great Indo-Pak cricket moments some time ago. ]

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46 thoughts on “They Are Back

  1. A whiney, unforgiving Paki team is the team Indians should love to beat – not the lovey-dovey team of 2004. Yes, I am happy too some normalcy has been restored hehe!

    Well said.

    Suyog

  2. Hi Arnab

    I have been checking your site for past few weeks and this is my first reply..I personally feel that the fear which we Indians had against Pakis was allayed once for all after the World Cup match( Sachin’s 98)..After that match, no amount of sledging or mouthing on the pitch could rouse the true spirit of India-Pakistan cricket match..and honestly speaking it usually roused the Paki spirit more often than the Indian in the past.
    That said..the way Imraan flayed Pakistan’s final performance during the after match analysis will remain one of the best memories of this tour for me

  3. I loved this post…I wish India could be more like Pakistan in this respect…that’s why i loved Ganguly, he was not gentlemanly and politically correct which is where Rahul Dravid fails, even though he is a more dependable player

  4. Arnab , the days u are talking abt , might well .. never come as things are a lot different today …. wht with some 20 cameras monitoring every act u do on field ….. microphones capturing every sound byte …. neutral umpires … match referes …sharjah … those days are gone …

  5. Hi Arnab,

    Been reading your blog for their humorous content, and must say you have quite the flair for it. But as a sensitive mature person, you still have miles to go.

    Your articles on indian muslims, middle east terrorists, pakistani people have always had an under current of dislike. You can vehemently deny it mate, but that’s what comes across to an outsider. And I can understand – I am an Indian too who grew up in the same environment as you. And was subjected to that very subtle anti-muslim feeling that still pervades in certain corners of the country, in certain corners of our mind.

    But Arnab, over the last few years there has been a marked change in my outlook towards everything “islam” and “muslims”. Maybe because now I have relocated to Dubai where I am more exposed to the Islamic culture. Or maybe now because I have a girlfriend who is muslim and I am more exposed to the Indian muslim’s way of thinking. Or maybe because I now have more friends from Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and those other “terrorist” countries.

    While two years back I would have shared the same exact feelings that you express, today I dont. Maybe I have walked a bit in someone else’s shoes over the last two years…which has made a difference. And thats why I find your comments “immature” ( wanted to use the word “tad” but maybe not).

    Incidently your article sounded uncannily similar to college conversations we friends used to have …very very similar…but then again, only as a college student – not any more.

    Dude, an eye for an eye, and the whole world’s gonna go blind some day. Your thinking is still at the “eye-for-an-eye” stage – and in some years you will most probably start moving away from it…or at least do make an effort. Its a blissful feeling when you realise that everyone is not evil out there – its merely “our” perceptions that make them appear so.

    Till then.
    Keep writing – cos its a real pleasure reading your articles. ( but do cut down on penning your views on every political topic – you havent reached there yet buddy!)

  6. @ Anurag : sorry for using your blog to replying to Anurag. I think, India overcame “Pakfobia” way back in world cup ’96 game at Bangalore. Then, came Sahara Cup, 1997-98 (Ganguly Man of the Series), and the peak was reached, when India won the Famous Dhaka one-day. Ganguly playing one of the brave-most innings of our cricket history. The problem is that some ex-Pakistan cricketers haven’t come to terms with it. On one hand, you could listen to Imran and Rameez talking sense, you always have likes of Miandad and Moin who still perceive India where Ravi Shastri used to open the innings (and close the game) and not Sehwag. Well, for Pakistan it has been a shock and it will take some time for them to absorb it.

  7. Hi Greatbong
    Good post as usual.
    Has anyone noticed that there has been the most remarkable transformation in the Indian team in the last year? The Indian team used to lose big games regularly and couldn’t chase to save it’s life. The Natwest series was one oasis in a desert. Now the team chases 290 regularly without breaking a sweat.

    About 4 years ago, England had an ODI series in India. India was up 3-1 but lost the last two trying to chase modest targets. In one game, they had 7 wickets in hand going into the last ten overs and needing just 60 runs, Ganguly and Kaif had a good partnership going… and they left it 2 runs short of the target.

    This combination of Yuvraj and Dhoni is awesome. Dhoni is the best finisher since Klusener – he might be the best ever in a few years.

  8. Ah, how can I forget the India-Pakistan world cup match in Bangalore. It was so much fun degrading each other. Heckling Aamir Sohail for taunting Venkatesh Prasad and calling Miandad Fat Bastard. So much fun.

    source: Stardust magazines I used to read in the barber’s shop

    Yes, it was such an authentic source. I mean they were the guys(or gals) who told us that Anupam Cacha was wearing a wig and revealed the secret behind Amisha Patels legs(she waxes weekly). Most importantly I am forever indebted to Stardust for that issue featuring a topless Mamta Kulkarni. Thank you.

  9. Good article GreatBong as usual. Rahul Bhattacharya had mentioned in his book “Pundits from Pakistan” about the 2004 Pakistani team not having that “junoon”. Well, it is back.
    And seriously, Indian journos parroting Moin Khan in calling Tendulkar Endulkar. Can it get more worse??

    Though would like to point this statement from “Another casual passerby”.
    “”Your articles on indian muslims, middle east terrorists, pakistani people have always had an under current of dislike””

    Are we supposed to not dislike terrorists??

  10. @Dreamweaver: Mm..”so did you”…did not understand that.

    @Kandarp: Okay….and my point was not that Indians have been necessarily affected by Pakistani tactics for a while now…there was a time they used to but that’s a long time ago. And oh you are free to opine on someone else’s comment…no need to say “sorry”.

    @Suyog: True. It’s fun beating these feisty enchiladas.

    @Anurag: Imran Khan belongs to an age where such defeats to India were simply out of the question. Hence the outpouring of anger/criticism—-I for one do not want to blame Inzi’s captaincy.

    @Kamal: Same here—there was a time pre-Ganguly when we would actually be affected by these mind games. Not any more.

    @Adi: Even with all this technology, Afridi could not resist scuffling the pitch with his boot during the England series. Sure I agree with your point. With match refs and stump mics, the Miandad brand of intimidation is a thing of the past.

    @ATJ: Yep

    @Michael: While I think that Yuvraj is a genius, I am less gung-ho about Dhoni mainly because of his batswing which is more tennis and less cricket. Against the swinging ball on fast tracks, Dhoni may be found out—–unless he can use his amazing handeye coordination to paper over his singular lack of technique.

    @Mallik: Thank you

    @Anil: Well Amir Sohail started it—with the bat waving and all. So much so that the most timid Prasad also just had to retaliate. Yes Stardust has been a great source of information/inspiration….the only pity was that the barber’s shop was the only place I could read it.

    @Dhananjay: No…you are supposed to “like terrorists”….even when they stuff RDX up your ass. Because they are gentle, misunderstood people who were not hugged when they were children.

    @Another Casual Passerby: Maybe as a sensitive mature person like you can tell me why we should love terrorists. Maybe you should also tell us why you made the association between Muslims and this post? You found this anti-Muslim? So anything Muslim= anything Pakistan and vise versa? Did you remember to read Afridi badmouthing Irfan and understand which way my sympathies lay? Your process of catharsis made me cry buckets—not that I was interested in it but any ways your transmorgification from immature Indian to terrorist-loving liberal made me shave my head in shame. I shall no longer talk about Islamic fundamentalism (not that I was talking about it in this post in any case) —will you call me mature then? I promise I shall *only* talk about Hindu fundamentalism and Western imperalism against poor peaceful men and women….pretty pretty please?

  11. Hey man, you hit it hard. That’s what you get when international politics is mixed with cricket. That’s a long post. But I like it. Not many bloggers can write quality content. About morality, it’s always been so with India. Remember, what China did to us in 1962.

    By the way, since you’re in ‘deep blue’ Maryland, the State house speaker is an Indian, I think. You guys have competitive races for the Senate and for Goverrnor. Ehrlich is going down, baby. Going down in China town, as they say. Democrats all the way.

  12. Hi Arnab

    I am one great fan of your blog(though, out of sheer laziness, i failed to exercise my suffrage when it came to the Indibloggies contest .Really regret that .And atleast add another 10 known friends of mines who too relish your posts but did not vote)

    And this post was really excellent.

    Another casual passerby-Come out with your true identity and we can argue.There is nothing remotely anti-muslim in any of Arnab’s posting.Arnab’s stand on issues(as understood from his posting )is truly “secular”.Unless you subscribe to the Arjun Singh /Mani Shankar Iyer/Praful Bidwai school of secularism

    If someone is accused of being Anti-Muslim for writing on the cocky attitude of Pakistan Players in the bygone era /pointing out that M.F.Hussain ,Deepa Mehta etc delibertaly provoke and offend sensibilities of many Hindus through their so-called artisitic work/fanatical islamic fundamentalists waging a jihad against our country/ need for enacting a uniform civil law ,totally ireligious and enshrined in principles of justice and equality/voice aganist angry ,barbaric methods of protest against offensive cartoons by burning down embassies-i am happy to be accuused as one.

    Incidentally all types of Fundamentalism,whether its the venom spewing divisive rath yatra of otheriwse sensible Advani or virulent /rabid right wing of VHP has been condemned in no uncertain terms by Arnab.Please go through the archives

    PS-Arnab,your phenomenal memory has failed you for once.I PRESUME”Practice Match”comment by Akram might be after the World cup 1999 (which happened in the middle of Kargil war)not 1998 as mentioned.

  13. Right on!

    My favourite moment in the series. Sami says to Sehwag “seedha mar na, seedha mar”. Sehwag says “pehle tu seedha phenk to sahi!”

  14. These days we bat second on winning the toss. And i remember times when Geoff Boycott would say, Indians just can’t chase. And at that time it seemed like India would never be able to chase.

    Indian teams attitude in the last two three years has changed a lot. The “we don’t give a rat’s ass what team you are” attitude is becoming more the character of the team with mavericks like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni and few others. There is a lot of confidence which is why whatever Pakistan did India wouldn’t be bothered. Even outside cricket more young Indians are becoming confident and aren’t intimidated by the developed nations. As a country we are seeing some results whcih is diluting the inferiority complex.

    I liked your blog and the emotions you’ve spoken about. An India-Pakistan match is no more a “WAR”. And that does steal some fun from it. But even so I don’t mind it for the “larger common good”. If Indians and Pakistanis don’t have to hate eachother and be aggressive only on the field I would like it.

    BTW, Indian hockey team ki abhi Pakistan ke saamne phat ti hai. BCCI should just buy out the IHF. lol

  15. Arnab da,

    I do think the tours help myths about the two countries to be dismissed. People cross borders and watch the matches and barriers are broken.

    I do think also that trying your best to win, and if you do not, never mind is the right way to go about things. So I do not mind a Chennai applauding Pakistan or a Pakistani crowd applauding India. But while the match is on, there should be no quarter given or asked for in the field or by the crowd. In that respect I agree with you.

  16. It was a very enjoyable read. I completely agree with you that an India-Pakistan series is incomplete without this kind of attitude towards each other on the field. But unfortunately, I couldn’t watch any of the matches… unless you consider reading ball-by-ball commentary on the Internet as “watching”! 😦

  17. I support Greatbong in his defence against being called “anti-muslim”. Hatred is lifeblood of global sports. India Pakistan rivalry is just an example. Have you ever seen a game between River plate and Boca Juniors? Supporters from both the sides swear at each other in the worst possible manner? Or just go to a Juventus – AC Milan Game, India – Pakistan crowd would look too decent! Here in Spain, where I live, try to speak to a Barcelona supporter, in favour of Madrid. You will lose respect and some teeth!!!! This is what Arnab is trying to point out. This very feature of rivalry was missing last time. In fact, at times i thought that everything was staged (there were elections in the offing than!). And what he writes is sheer “college talk”, than let it be; at least it reminds hundreds like me, of innocent joy, we used to have in past. Every word of his, is a mirror to the past. His blogs represent memoirs of millions of middle class Indians, who thrived on innocent dreams, and derived pleasures from the simplicity of their lives. This post is anything, but Anti-Muslim.

  18. Nice post yet again, Arnab. I’ve always felt that India’s glorification of docile, gentlemanly sportsmanship sucks.

    When playing a game at an international level, the sole focus of any team should be winning. Even though unfair means should never be condoned or emulated, India needs to be more aggresive in their collective approach. With a team like Australia, aggression, misplaced or otherwise, is a way of life. Pakistan seems to burn bright and red hot mostly when playing against India. Interesting!

  19. This indeed is a true classic:

    Your articles on indian muslims, middle east terrorists, pakistani people have always had an under current of dislike.

    Quite possibly the dumbest comment ever.

  20. [GreatBong] This could be sacrilege but the Pakis are like Prabhuji, You expect him to be down and out after an Elaan, but lo and behold, he strikes back hard with Classic-Dance of Love, Lucky and Chingaari !!

    Some things never change and should never change. On top of that list, is Moin Khan’s stupidity. 🙂

    GHE

  21. Dear GB,

    Firstly I was busy as hell during the last few days and hence I could not comment on your past posts(including the superb one on the book fair.) After spending countless sleepless nights with Walter Rudin, Kolmogorov and Fomin, Patrick Billingsley, and Halmos , I had completely lost my Mojo.:) But that didnt stop me from watching cricket all night on those hack sites where the chances of buffering are inversely proportional to how quickly you find the link. I have glanced through all your past posts and will comment on them surely. It is always a joy to read the posts of India’s best blogger.

    Now regarding this post, I could completely relate to what you said. Because yours and mine watching cricket goes back to the days when cricket meant mostly Radio, when TV replays appeared with the R sign, when 222 was a match winning total in one dayers and India and Pakistan played much much less frequently than they do now and India got thrashed more often than not. In those days, the attitude of our cricket team reflected the skeptical and uneasy-with-itself nature of the society in general. Hence suffice it to say that a 15 year old today will not be able to see to empathise with yours or mine viewpoints as he is not an abused person like you and me- abused by those defeats. Just think of the budding anticipation when Indo Pak matches where played in those days. And yes, I have heard the blasts of Crackers in Razabazar when Pakistan won and slogans of “Imran Khan Zindabad” in Eden Gardens too. They were cold dark days when the intensity of a defeat rankled on days and even weeks after the match. By a strange coincidence most of thse one of these matches took place on Fridays and theories like” Its impossible to beat them on Fridays “, “They eat beef and hence they bowl fast”, ” Wow their batsman hit the ball hard as they eat ox curry at lunchtime” cropped up. I saw sexy young girls at Cal Book fair writting on posters to be sent as boosters to Indian cricket team ” Do anything but dont lose to Pakistan.”

    To be fair, Pakistan were a better team than us on most occasions. And under Gavaskar Indians played for draws. This is still reflected in his comments like “Play 3 openers” etc. Like 1979, in the Karachi test India were humiliated due to lack of bowlers who could take 20 wickets when conditions didnt suit them. With a bowling lineup like that we simply didnt deserve to win the test series. Harbhajan cant bowl without the Sg ball, and Woolmer having the virtue of hindsight with his experience as South African coach, showed them how to play Kumble as an inswing bolwer and employ the sweep to great effect. Going back in history, that Chetan fulltoss also started a sequence when they won close matches barring World cup. IMO we started to look them straight into the eye after 1996 World cup . Some more matches which helped break those myths were Dhaka final, Toronto cup, and most notably the 2004 tour. Now as many jokes there may be about Ganguly, I believe that credit should be given to this 33 year old for imbibing a never know before intrepidity into the Indian cricket psychology. After the tour of Australia and just before leaving for Pakistan, Ganguly made a statement like” I am not disrespecting pakistan, but if we play at the level of 60% of what we played in Australia, we”ll beat Pakistan.” What insouciance! That too when India had not won a single test, let alone a series in Pakistan before. After 2004, the Paki freedom fighters mellowed. It was also the perfect kick coming of a full run-up into the testicles of that big shouting street dog from Karachi called Javed Miandad. Of course as Imran Khan has said many times in the studio, India never win a match..Pakistan merely lose it. Sometimes he felt if Younis Khan played at 3, Pakistan and not India would have won the series 4-1.

    Regarding player body language, the admitration of Wasim Bari for Dravid cuz he spoke to him gently are a pointer. Paki players mostly have uneducated backgrounds barring stray cases like Saeed Anwar who was a comp engg. Look at Afridi!. He prolly screws all his sisters around. So during those days of sledging when Miandad once asked Dilip Doshi as to what his hotel room number was so that he could land his six there, those were met with silence. But say a guy like Dhoni …hell prolly respond in even more foul language which would shup em up. But then fault finders will still say that Ganguly was too aggressive and why he took his shirt off etc etc.

    Regarding message board slangs, I have seen several boards in which pakistanis get back as good as they give(freesports4u.com–>Outlaw–>Flaming) is just an example. India were on a roll in the current series, and played well enough to beat Pakistan. But to be fair to be Pakistan, I still think they are still a better team simply due to the presence of better bowlers. Imran Khan keeps on saying….play five bowlers. He is both right and wrong. One day cricket has come a long way since he played. Still in the 1996 World cup, 250 was a great total…and 2003 showed that by how much cricket has changed. With specialists, heavier bats and virtually no batting bunnies in any side, line and length will suffice. But we need one explosive bowler like Brett Lee who can turn a match on its head like the 2003 semifinal at PE. So five specialist bowlers are not necessary, but the given ones have to develop the skills to see that they dont travel on small grounds and flat as pancake surfaces. Actually modern coaches like Buchanan, Woolmer and before them Simpson had explored the game so much that frankly speaking, there is no more room left for drastic innovation. Thats why one daysers somhow dont have that spark that they once had….or am I getting older? They say 20-20 is the answer, but to me its like the desert without the main course. Call me old fashioned but I still love watching Test cricket than anything else. And it is in Test cricket that India has some serios questions. They will still beat anybody at home, as long as Kumble is fit. But we simply dont have the firepower to bowl to win matches abroad. Adelaide was a combination of foruitousness and cocksure Australians. This leads me to the 2007 World Cup. Can India win? I will eject teams that I dont think will win. South Africa still have such a problem with spin that they will get stuck somewhere. I dont think either NZL or SA have the capacity to go the full distance but can cause changes of equation. England dont deserve to win a World cup as they never took ODIs seriously and West Indies are simply too mercurial. I think 2007 World cup will be a 3 horse race between India Pakistan and Australia. Pakistan are surely a fantastic side. And Australia are well…Australia. I had my question marks about how good India really are and Im glad to see that they are doing well. Of course to us scarred old timers, a 4-1 series victory is orgasmic . India are doing well and I hope that unlike me…they dont lose their mojo.

    But your post is larger than cricket. It is a reflection of what you grew up with and how things changed. Get ready for more shocks. There may a time 15 years down the line when your son may return home and say ” Today I saw the Yankees play with my Pakistani friend. Then I went to their house and saw that his dad was watching that silly game called cricket on TV . I dont like cricket and nor does my friend. He was supporting the men in blue while I was behind the guys in green.”

  22. @ a casual passerby:

    It is abundantly clear that you read this blog very causually and hence your comment:

    “Your articles on indian muslims, middle east terrorists, pakistani people have always had an under current of dislike. ”

    I think what you wanted was something similar to the way some Hindi movies end: with tears and hugs and kisses .Sighs..the grass is so green and the sky is so blue. I would also tell you….if you come to America and meet ex Ku Klux Klans…your perception will change ….or if you go to meet ex Nazi Germans ( one of my college professors) ..again your perception will change. As you said, not all of them are bad you know.

    Also for your information, Arnab is as secular as they come. But if he has to denounce some and mollycoddle others to prove his secularity….like the Indian National Congress does….to gain your approval….I have nothing to say.

    And please dont advice him to stop writing on politics etc. I mean you have every right to suggest, but please dont dismiss. Its his own blog after all.

    Im actually quite satisfied with the level of maturity in Arnab’s writings. And at the risk of sounding condescending, maturity is often relative. Sometimes its very easy to enhance villain production at the expense of mirror manufacture.

  23. Hi,

    Your post was as usual superb and humrous. Allow me to share some of my experiences.

    To a cricket mad person as myself, losing against Pakistan is the worst possible thing that can ever happen. The day India looses the match, my mental peace and job productivity goes for a toss.
    I started watching cricket since India’s tour of Australia in 1991 and have been a Tendulkar fan since then. So relatively I have watched fewer Sharjah defeats to Pakistan. We lost twice in 94 and once in 95 before the turn around in 96.

    But once I remember my mom (who is not much of a cricket fan) in 92, was angry & sad, just because Indian team never defeats pakistan. That image of her then, gave me a glimpse of the pain felt by all cricket fans including you.

    The turn around I beleive was the 1996 Quarterfinal match. There are many great moments, but my favorites are the Jadeja six of Waqar, Saeed’s Anwar’s catch by Anil off Srinath and Aamir’s wicket. That moment, when Prasad castled Aamir, the moment arrived. I knew India would win the match. Very soon we defeated them in Sharjah.

    In between we did lose many matches but the turn around had started. It was clearly visible in the attitude of our younger generation players like Sehway, Yuvraj, Pathan. I am not a Ganguly fan, but credit to him for instilling in the team a deep hatred of defeat. Before the series, in the last 10 matches we had won only 2, so frankly I did not give the team much of a chance.

    But great job!!!!. The Indian team has made me very very proud. Hip Hip Hurray.

  24. @ Another casual passerby:
    It’s quite obvious that you were a mere ‘casual’ passerby.
    Had you read Arnab’s post with a little bit less ‘casual’ attitude, you probably wouldn’t have come with such a conclusion. Before pointing fingers at somebody or criticizing somebody, you should always be sure that you have the right reason for doing so. Anyways, it’s Arnab’s weblog and he was, is and will be posting here whatever he wants to and as long as we, his numerous readers enjoy reading these and appreciate his writings, a few non-sensical comments from “casual passers by” like you are not going to make any difference.

    @Arnab:
    Why should you stop talking about Islamic Fundamentalism or anything in the universe just because someone like “Another casual passerby” may not appreciate it? It’s your weblog and weblogs are meant to be a means of expressing what you really feel inside about anything under the sky.
    I, on behalf of everyone who reads your posts regularly and enjoys every bit of them, request you not to get affected by these anonymous “casual passers by” and to go on publishing whatever you want to. Blogging is like Democracy in the truest sense and every blogger has the fundamental right of voicing his/her personal opinion regarding any issue. So please don’t refrain yourself from doing anything and go on posting your masterpieces. Don’t deprieve us of the sharpness and sleekness of your posts by trying to play safe just to keep every “casual passerby” silent.

    Long live Arnab and so do his blog.
    CHEERS!!!

    PS: That you have taken the art of blogging to another height goes without saying (I’m serious)but somehow in your last two posts I didn’t find the typically GREATBONG-ish touch. “They are back” is without doubt, excellent but I really couldn’t figure out why I thought something was lacking in “Shylock Khan”.It wasn’t the kind of GREATBONG stuff we have become used to saying. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that you’ll come back with a BANG with yet another masterpiece very soon. I’m really missing your one-liners, man.

    See ya.

  25. YOURFAN writes:

    @Another Casual Passerby: You wrote: “Your articles on indian muslims, middle east terrorists, pakistani people have always had an under current of dislike. You can vehemently deny it mate, but that’s what comes across to an outsider.”
    To your pathetic comment I only have this to say: I am also an outsider “mate”, but I don’t see any “under current of dislike” in any of his posts. Do you feel good to see that so many people are talking about your pitiable opinion? Then I think that you are getting what you craved for. But sadly, nobody is supporting you.
    I whole heartedly support Varsha on her point: “immaturity is one word which NEVER occurs to me when i read ur posts!”
    Sorry, Another Casual Passerby, I couldn’t be in your league “mate”. I am sorry to write that your understanding of GB’s posts are very pathetic. So try to read them with due attention not “casual”ly like your name suggests.
    @GB: As usual great post.

  26. @Aragorn241: What China did to us in 1962 should be rephrased as “What we did to ourselves in 1962”—the sheer incompetence of Nehru’s supposed foreign policy.

    @Prasanna: That’s all right. There is always next year. And with regard to Akram—yes he did say that before the toss *and* he said that after too, quoting what he said before the match as if to say “We are not saying this because we lost, even before the match I said the same thing. This match just did not matter”. Yeah right.

    @Gaurav: That’s the way !

    @Sriram: You are right—Indians have become more confident and assertive and it is reflected in our position as a nation and in sports (okay make that just cricket).

    @Pratyush: I would prefer, in an ideal world, “sporting” crowds who applaud good cricket–regardless of who is playing it. I can say, without any sarcasm, that I have always held the Pakistan team in immensely high regard—-as a matter of fact, man-for-man the Pakistan team of the early 90s was better than the Australian team today even though because of things like “match fixing” they could never dominate the world scene. However I am a firm believer in giving as good as we get—as long as it does not become rowdyism.

    @Joy Forever: Yes that ball-by-ball things sucks.

    @Mystic Margarita: It is that red hot-ism that enabled Pakistan historically to be able to win matches against us from any situation.

    @GHE: Yes Prabhuji encapsulates the Pakistani spirit.

    @yourfan2: Very very true. Our generation has sat through Ravi Shastri pottering around in the end overs, Bharati Arun being taken to the cleaners, Salim Malik scoring at 10 an over for the last 8 overs to win a match in Eden, Krish Srikkanth taking everything easy and as you point out, Sunil gavaskar playing for a draw *even in ODIs*.

    Pakistan has always been a better team than India—-it is only after Wasim and Waqar retired/were eased out that the balance of talent is on India’s side. But marginally. The reason why we have bridged the gap is because pakistan are in no way even close to the great bowling machine they were in the early 90s. Except Mohd Asif, the rest of their attack is a joke. (And that includes Shoaib). The problem is our bowling attack isnt much better either. Irfan has slowed up, Zaheer is supremely inconsistent, Bhajji is too cocky and Kumble is just too old.

    With regards to 2007, its still too early to say—-it is the form running in that’s going to matter. Spin wont be much of a factor in the Windies which is why I would keep SA in the reckoning.

    @Varsha: Thank you…

    @Avadhoot: As yourfan2 pointed out, the defeatism is a relic of the past—a past which yourfan2 and I have suffered through in the 80s.

    @Dev: Aah well. Criticism accepted…but I felt the Shylock Khan wasnt all that bad….again ah well.

    @Yourfan: Thank you

    @All: Thank you for your support and your replies to Another Casual Passerby—-as long as so many people “get” what I am saying…I think I am doing quite okay. Again thank you all for your support.

  27. Man .. GB .. you have people writing comments twice the size of your posts!! Speaking about Wasim Akram .. undoubtedly the best ODI bowler a team can wish for.

    Also if we ARE making this a political discussion, and whose brother (unlike Dev Anand’s) is a freedom-fighter in Kashmir a pair of quotes for the ‘freedom-fighter’ please.

  28. This confident new Indian team is direct result of Greg Chappell policies. When players get a signal that non-performers (like Ganguly) get sacked, they play very well. In fact our own politicians and influential people who used to interfere with team selection in the past were responsible for this. Now, as Greg is not allowing any meddling I am confident that Indian team can win World Cup ’07.
    I am really happy that Ganguly is not in for England tour team. This again has sent a strong signal that only and only performers would be in, others kicked out.

  29. @Right

    Right you are. That’s why Mohammed Kaif should be included in the test team, whose last 5 test innings read as 7, 2, 25, 4, 9, which is difinitely better than those of Ganguly (5, 40, 39, 34, 37).

  30. Anir

    Remember Ganguly was exactly similarly included in the team in the past even after scoring such pitiable scores.
    Wait,Mr.BongRegionalism, Let Kaif be as incompetent as Ganguly and his time will also come. But I think Kaif will restore to his original form in short time (he doesn’t have any Bong minister to influence inclusion in the team).
    One more proof of Bongaly self-indulgent regionalism – Debojit won Saregamapa because of high number of voters from Bengal. Debojit was trailing to third place till votes from Northeast region were counted!

    Right

  31. i read the comments by ‘another passer by’ and this self proclaimed ‘right’, and i am forced to think that Mr.Manu had a point when eons ago he designated specific activities to different stratas of society matching their characteristics (physical and mental). Obviously ppl not capable of thinking and formulating their own opinions…..unless of course they are ‘matured’ by the religion of their girlfriend….(hurray, as i am in Dubai already I am one step closer to being mature than all the rest of u)… should b alotted tasks which involves cleaning webs than surfing it.
    But most of all I am pleasantly surprised by the self confidence of someone, who i wont name lest he accuses me of plotting sreesanths inclusion in the team by using my great contacts in the BCCI to get a keralite in the team, who eventhough cant obviously see beyond his snobby pseudo(?)secular(?) nose actually gives out his great opinions as if its the 11th and 12th commandments…..

    Am sorry arnab if this is not appropriate on ur site adn wont mind u taking it off….but the hypocrites really get me down…………… and plz do keep the blogs coming, its one of the reasons i take my salary for……..

  32. Anti-Islam? ROFLMAO!

    I’d feel equally (if not more) nauseous if the Aussies started being all lovey-dovey to any opponent (esp the Poms). Imagine Ricky Ponting / anyone else saying “We’ve come here to win hearts and minds of the Indians, not the test series”

    right.

    especially after Langer called Smith “Stupid” when he reacted to some comments 😀

    thankfully there is no chance of the aussies going soft on anyone… like the pakis.

  33. Anti-Islam? ROFLMAO!

    I’d feel equally (if not more) nauseous if the Aussies started being all lovey-dovey to any opponent (esp the Poms). Imagine Ricky Ponting / anyone else saying “We’ve come here to win hearts and minds of the Indians, not the test series”

    right.

    especially after Langer called Smith “Stupid” when he reacted to some comments 😀

    thankfully there is no chance of the aussies going soft on anyone… like the pakis.

  34. So Mr Oxymoron… you are back to your bong parochialism… read your Goodbye Sourav where you have already got scared and disabled comments… don’t blame you as getting scared is a prominent bontg instinct… remember Shayan Munshi??? ganguli was always a liability for India and we r happy that last nail has been hammered into his coffin…

  35. And so Another Indian…..I can see how brave you are…not giving your name and all. Its very brave of you to shout abuse behind anonymity and accuse me of cowardice Mr Moron….since I cant even put oxy before you. As to why I closed comments was because I was being called a cocksucker that was why—which I understand is the kind of language you use at home but its not tolerated here.

  36. mr oxymoron… I don’t care why you closed your comments… its not only us who are to blame… we are instigated by your and your fan’s parochial views… especially when ganguly is concerned… just an advice… please stop writing abt ganguly… remember what good time you were having with just ur fans around u… until u again started writing abt ganguly???

  37. prince of kolkota,god of offside,dada,bengaltiger,man with golden arm Ganguly is a legend in world cricket.
    the best captain india has ever seen.The best timer of cricket ballIndia has ever produced.In all one of the top most left handers in world cricket.A man of extreme
    self belief,courage and grid.
    He has been dropped besides performing brilliantly in 2007 .Lets start a
    campaign for reinstating saurav in indian one day team.

    please join my community in orkut

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