Pakistan ends the winning drought, but will the India-Pak rivalry end?

“Treat it as a game not war” read the message sent out by former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif before the India vs. Pakistan match on Saturday. However for the millions of viewers across the two rival nations, it's nothing less than a war as the two on and off-field adversaries meet on ground.
Pakistan ends the winning drought, but will the India-Pak rivalry end?
ANI

India opened their T20 World Cup 2021 campaign on October 24 as they crashed against their arch-rival Pakistan in the Dubai International Stadium, The United Arab Emirates (UAE). With bated breath, fans from both the sides of the border stayed glued to their television screens as the Virat Kohli led team India struggled to maintain their winning spree in the World Cup against the neighbouring nation. Babar Azam and the co., outplayed their opponent to secure a historic 10-wicket victory over India.

The History Of Sporting Rivalry

Without a doubt, the cricket rivalry between India and Pakistan is one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world. The division of the British India into India and Pakistan led to strained diplomatic relationship between the neighbouring nations which further fostered a bitter sporting rivalry between the two countries especially in cricket, the most popular sport in both the nations.

The newly formed nation state of Pakistan became a member of the Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC) in 1948. It became a full member in the year 1952. The same year, Pakistan toured India and thus happened the first on ground confrontation between the blue and the green squads. Since then, almost 200 matches have been played between the sides. However, this had not been independent of political influences. Because of the Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965 and 1971 wars, the competitors did not play against each other from 1962 to 1977. India’s tour of Pakistan in 1984 was called off mid-way due to the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assasination. Likewise the 1999, the Kargil War and the Mumbai attacks of 2008 affected the sporting relations between the nations.

In 1952, the Indian cricket team drew severe flak after losing the second test against Pakistan in Lucknow. The war outlook of the citizens from both sides of the border exerted immense pressure on the players. A lot of matches resulted in draws and complaining about the fairness of the game became a habitual talk. The players of both nations face tremendous pressure to win and have to face severe reactions for defeats. The media and the viewers exert high expectations and a defeat leads to massive outrage amongst the citizens.

The Emotional Angle

Cricket fans or not, clashes between India and Pakistan elicit strong emotions amongst citizens across the borders. Surprisingly, the oldest rivalry of England and Australia seems bland in front of the India-Pakistan rivalry. Even though the two arch-rivals have faced each other a limited number of times, without an iota of doubt, the matches played between the two are the most awaited and celebrated to the maximum.

With social media in play, fans waste no opportunity in standing up and supporting their country or demeaning the other. The outside the pitch rivalry on social media truly started with the Mauka Mauka ad six years ago, a phase now used by Indian fans to taunt Pakistani fans and celebrate after India’s win.

The emotions attached with India-Pakistan know no bounds. With patriotism in the minds of people, incidents of violence from both sides of the border after a defeat are common. Countless reports have talked about television sets being broken in anger. It's not unusual to come across visuals of prayers being offered before and during a match on both sides.

The rich and troublesome history of the two nations is what makes these tide of emotions inevitable. The result of the India-Pakistan World Cup match on 24th October sent a wave of happiness as Pakistan scripted history, while on the other side was a nation overtaken by grief.

People from both the nations took to social media to cheer for their respective teams while some engaged in a battle of words and left no stones unturned to insult the other country. A tweet that was retweeted by numerous people, including prominent Indian figures, targeting the state of economy in the country read: “Pakistan has won the toss and decided to take the coin back to Pakistan to improve their economy.”

Several users praised the two teams for their sportsmanship as the players from the team were seen smiling together. The Pakistani nationals took to social media in praising their players and videos of Pakistanis celebrating the win on streets were going round. Most of the Indians, on the other hand, expressed their grief and cheered the players to get up and perform better the next time. And a sect including BJP leader Subramanian Swamy condemned the decision of playing against a “terrorist nation”.

There were people trolling BCCI chief Jay Shah and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar for the loss.

The tidal wave of emotions associated with the India-Pakistan clashes are inevitable and doesn’t seem to end. But surely enough, as compared to earlier, the emotions are being channeled in a good way.

The article is written by Asmita Pant. She is pursuing her master’s programme in Mass Communication in Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune. The views expressed in this article are the authors' own. The Bridge Chronicle neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.

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