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Pakistan Cricket Team Captain and His Double Talk Post World Cup 2011 Semi-Final
Not only did the very affable Shahid Afridi keep his cool for the better part of the semi-final encounter with India in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup, he was a beacon of cordiality as he congratulated the Indian XI for outplaying them. Even after landing in Pakistan, he was calm and asked his nation to look forward to the great experience his young team has gathered in the World Cup campaign. So what happened within hours of him gleefully admitting to a reporter that his team had suffered from the negativity spewed by the Indian media and that the viciousness of the Indian players made them greater sportsmen?
Needless to say, Afridi’s interview set off a domino effect across India. From social media to mainstream newspapers and TV news debates, almost everyone was more shocked than surprised by Afrida’s two-faced statements. Was he a sore loser, or was there something else to his outburst? We’ve said in the past that there was immense pressure on both neighbors when they met in Mohali, but from the looks of it one thing was clear – the losing team was the first to crack under the pressure. But the fact remains that if India had lost the match, the emotions of the Indian fan would have made them do crazy things, but the eleven Indian players who played the match would not have resorted to the two lines that Afridi pulled.
Afridi later told an Indian news channel during a live interview that he was “quoted out of context”, an oft-repeated response to wriggle out of any tight spot. First he bashed Pakistani media for making every clash with India a matter of national pride, a war of sorts, when the truth is that Pakistan loves everything Indian, from movies to songs to TV serials, and second he said that Indian media is negative and Indian players are not as generous as they used to be.
Both these interviews are out there and can be seen a million times by Afridi, as if he told an Indian news anchor that he would like to see the videos again to see what he said, but the truth is so simple – he’s damned if he talks and damned if he doesn’t.
The way Pakistan played against India was heavily criticized and perhaps as time went on relevant questions would haunt Afridi and other senior players like Younis Khan. Could this be Afridi’s ploy to make sure everyone gets busy with his tirade and forgets to ask him about the lives they showered on Sachin Tendulkar, his decision to delay batting or bat so low at the latter that it felt like he wasn’t there? even play. With the Indian Premier League (IPL) starting in a few days, no one in India would care how the issue pans out and perhaps that is what Afridi intended. One look at how India outplayed Australia, Pakistan and then Sri Lanka to become world champions and no one in their right mind would question Afridi and his team regardless of the bizarre tactics they used during the semi-final.
With Pakistan when they play India, ever since Javed Miandad’s blistering six off the last ball of Chetan Sharma in the 1986 Australasia Cup final in Sharjah, everyone has been hoping for a miracle. In the last 19 years, India and Pakistan have met five times in World Cup matches and with each victory, the memory of those six fades. Match-fixing, substance abuse and a host of other blemishes have tarnished Pakistan’s image in the world of cricket. Can you imagine an Indian minister ‘warning’ a team against match-fixing ahead of their biggest challenge? It is true that they have more prodigious talent than India, but somewhere the Indian system, flawed though it may be, infuses its players with a greater sense of professionalism that transforms them into better players.
Even if Afridi had not said what he said, everything would have been fine. This double lecture by Shahid Afridi is nothing more than lip service to a nation that is deprived of things to look forward to; this is a desperate ploy by a talented cricketer to distract his countrymen until they ignore him once they start rooting for Indian city teams in the IPL!
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