Gloating Rights

India beat Pakistan by 124 runs in their Champions Trophy, Group B, match on Sunday in Birmingham.

For match reports: ESPN Cricinfo [Video autoplays. Careful.], Cricbuzz, Wisden India
For match highlights: Hotstar

I’m merely exercising my gloating rights here following the Indian win.

india fans celebrate
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bikas Das

It is news to no one that Pakistan are no longer the ‘Pakistan’. No international cricket at home, no bilateral series with India, no IPL participation, no friends in the ICC—even the likes of Bangladesh and Afghanistan are refusing to play with them—it is as if the world has collectively decided to punish Pakistan cricket for the follies of the rogue Pakistan government. No wonder then that Pakistan cricket has lost its vigor. Gone are the days when Indian fans used to look forward to India vs. Pakistan clash with trepidation. Half prepared for humiliation. If you look at the old cricket footage from that era, even the players look like nervous wrecks. So, on those occasions when India did beat Pakistan, there were such collective outpouring of pent up emotion, as if it were another Dasara.

MS Dhoni changed all that. When he became the captain, he simply refused to give Pakistan any more respect than the team deserved. He reduced the rivalry to cricketing terms. That’s had tremendous effect on how the Indian players approached Pakistan games.

These days, the fans themselves know that even if Pakistan played to its utmost potential, they’d find it hard to get past this cool-headed Indian team 9 times out of 10. The aura of Pakistan, as it were, is completely off.

And India plays the modern game whereas Pakistan has fallen behind the times. Which is sad because cricket used to be one of the few things Pakistan used to be world-class. What should hurt them most, however, is that they have lost their fast bowlers. They have lost them for some time now and are not getting them back. The long, rowdy, intimidating run up to the crease, the impossible jump, the spitting-cobra-like wrist action before the reverse swinging yorker crashing on to the batsman’s stumps has become a thing of the past. Yesterday, Hasan Ali tried a yorker in the 43rd over. Yuvraj Singh, a batsman long past his prime, cleared his front leg slightly, and with his characteristic backlift and timing, he just let the ball meet the bat swing ramrod straight. The ball flew past the bowler, past the diving long off fielder, to boundary. Yuvraj Singh held the pose for a moment. The contrast between past and present could not have been starker. Have the Pakistani fast bowlers, in keeping with the civilizational ethos of the subcontinent, stopped eating beef?

UPDATE on June 19, 2017:

Have the Pakistani fast bowlers, in keeping with the civilizational ethos of the subcontinent, stopped eating beef?

Apparently not. Congratulations to them.

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