In the 46th over of the seventh encounter between two fierce Asian rivals, one captain from the batting side was present on the non-striker’s end, working himself up. With a little adjustment of collar, he continued to look at the field setting. At the expense of looking too much into it, you’d think he is targeting his next place to hit the boundary. He looked a little fidgety, but you know that his concentration levels are almost as if he’s in meditation. Probably more.
At the same time, one captain from the fielding side was at the wicket-keeping position.
And he was yawning.
What is a rivalry? A simple Google search would tell you that it is a competition for the same objective, or for superiority in the same field. Historically, Pakistan has been one of our fiercest rivals on a cricket pitch. But are they anymore? Is it really a competition for superiority?
For any competition to be healthy, there needs to be a certain sense of parity in quality and performances. The parity between India and Pakistan, at the moment, is as existent as a unicorn. You can talk about it, you can picture it, but in the end, it’s only in your imagination.
Pakistan did many things wrong – Sarfaraz’s yawn is but a dwarfed symbolism of the same.
Pakistan didn’t just become a poor cricketing country overnight. Wasim Akram, during his commentary stint in the game yesterday, said that Pakistan doesn’t have a stable first-class structure. That it keeps changing every year. That the people in-charge of the cricketing setup in Pakistan are simply too incompetent to oversee the structures.
India, on the other hand, are one of the most professionally-run boards. The arrival of Virat Kohli has brought about a fitness revolution in the team. Indian players are athletic, and it shows on the field. Virat runs between the wickets as if his life is at stake. Others run as if Virat has threatened to kill them if they don’t.
Pakistan’s fielders have their own tragicomic moments on the field. In yesterday’s game, they could’ve ran Rohit Sharma out early in the innings. They embarrassingly missed, and Rohit went on to score 140 in 113 balls.
The gulf also arises from Pakistan’s internal disturbances.
Ever since the unfortunate terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team during their 2009 tour to Pakistan, the country is deprived of a high-profile cricketing visit. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) may have eased the pain a little, but the fact remains that the lack of bilateral series at home is a huge issue for the side.
Instead, Pakistan plays their ‘home’ series in front of empty stands at the United Arab Emirates.
The country’s disturbing relations with India hasn’t helped them as well. India and Pakistan last played against each other in a full-fledged bilateral series in 2007. 12 years have passed since, and barring a three-match T20I series, both the sides have only faced each other in ICC tournaments/Asia Cups.
During this time, India oversaw the retirements of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, to name a few. Pakistan, too, saw the likes of Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq hanging up their boots. In addition, they lost Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif to spot-fixing scandal.
Today, India are second in ICC ODI Rankings, having replaced their greats in both the formats to significant satisfaction. Pakistan is simply struggling to find someone to rely on.
Despite another one-sided fixture, the next India-Pakistan game will be built-up on a hype which it doesn’t warrant. India enjoys a better rivalry against countries like Australia, who defeated Virat Kohli’s side in its own backyard, merely a month after India did the same.
It is time to look beyond the historical rivalries and focus on the present. The same holds true for Pakistan as well.