India vs Pakistan: Archrivals set to clash at Champions Trophy 2017, but should mortars and yorkers go together?

With three days to go for the much touted Indo-Pak cricket one-dayer in the Champions Trophy we are all pretending things are hunky dory between them and us. They are not and the sound of artillery and mortar fire on the border drowns out the possible pleasure of willow on leather.

Even Afghanistan has decided to right it after 80 people were killed in the Kabul blast and freeze cricketing ties with Pakistan. This is what Afghan board said on its Facebook page: "The ACB hereby cancel all kinds of cricket matches and initial mutual relationship agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board.

File picture of Virat Kohli (L) and Sarfraz Ahmed (R). Reuters

File picture of Virat Kohli (L) and Sarfraz Ahmed (R). Reuters

"No agreement of friendly matches and mutual relationship agreement is possible with a country where terrorists are housed and provided safe havens."

Four days on from the tie with us the Pakistani government will send a high-level legal team to The Hague led by its Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali to impress upon the International Court of Justice reasons why India’s case for the stay of execution and release of its citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav should be thrown out. Last month Indian had obtained a moral and judicial victory on six counts and the ICJ had admonished Pakistan and placed it on notice.

Between the exchange of fire and the subsequent videos released of both sides ostensibly blowing up each other’s forward posts what exactly are we doing posturing about things being normal enough to go ahead with the game for the sake of the game.

We have nothing to gain by playing Pakistan. And a lot by cold-shouldering them at this juncture. If we win, nothing changes. Its hard-nosed attitude and even derision for the ICJ in the aftermath indicates the attitude and underscores the fact that Jadhav is not coming home anytime soon. If anything, they have thrown the key away. Forget about consular access being denied despite the recommendation of the ICJ but a month after we still do not know if the man is alive or dead or utterly brainwashed.

If we lose the game and it can happen on a given day we provide that country with a well-timed PR incentive and boost which it will use to create a cockiness because it sees every victory over India in this game as a getting even for 1971. It seeks to places us on the back-foot for no reason.

At this moment in time why give this opportunity. It is neither defeatist nor bad sportsmanship to walk away, it is pure strategy and sports can no longer be kept aside on some shiny pedestal. It is part of the total package.
The thing is the moment we do that handshaking, buddy-buddy stuff in Edgbaston on Sunday we close the door on our rage and our indignation over these series of hostile incidents. The page, so to speak, is turned on Jadhav, the atrocities on the LoC, the murder of Lt Ummer Fayyaz in Jammu and Kashmir and the cross-border terrorism that India faces. It’s like a forgiven and forgotten card.

The PCB and the BCCI reps already had a meeting in Dubai preparatory to flying off to England where they are supposed to discuss the six series (between 2014 and 2023) bi-laterals which India has rightly refused to honour because of the current state of affairs.

Why did we talk to them and why are we still talking to them? Sports minister Vijay Goel earlier this week expressed his disappointment and regret that these palavers were still on but that hardly cuts the ice. As the custodian of Indian sport shouldn’t you be a lot more aggressive in taking on the BCCI…simply order them not to sit at the table.

For those who squeak about sports being kept out of the political arena we were all brimming with righteousness when we pulled our hockey team out of the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia for the second year in a row because we wanted to snub Pakistan.

Sauce for the goose…why is cricket always the exception to national policy? There is no such thing as half a snub. Either go the whole nine yards or simply stop the token pretence.

It is unbelievable that as mortars crunch onto our soil in Poonch and Rajouri and Nowshera sector at this very moment, our cricket officials are chatting with this lot and settling down for a ringside view of what might needlessly be a diplomatic reversal for us...pass the biscuits, please.

Is the clicking of the turnstile so damn important?

Seems it is.


Published Date: Jun 01, 2017 10:56 pm | Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 11:04 pm


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