What is the correspondence between India and Pakistan if the tension is not dense, full of nervous anxiety, and this additional touch of competitive energy? To introduce the cliché, with so many emotions invested, it is not just a cricket, it is a war. It is the war of the primitive kind, announced by the drum beats of nationalist pride, the cacophony of partisan passion, and motivated solely by the decimation and humiliation of the enemy.
The troubled story between the subcontinental neighbors spiced up all the cricket contests and turned them into an event that is worth waiting for. For people on both sides of the fence, the result was more than simply winning or losing a match: it was to assert the national strength and the confirmation of superiority over the other. Frequent matches have meant that the cycle of revenge and redemption has progressed faster, each game has become a match of grudge.
The casting of the characters in terms of players has changed, but the passion that brought the India-Pakistan matches has never diminished. The matches were never between teams, between two nations.
Why are we talking about matches from the past?
There is a reason. The raw passion in an India-Pakistan contest has long evaporated. Nationalist feelings on both sides have become stronger than mutual acrimony and bitterness, but these no longer reflect cricket matches. This could be due to the fact that the equation between the two parties has become extremely unequal. India has gradually emerged as a power plant, while Pakistan has shrunk in capacity and reputation. An Indian victory over Pakistan is taken for granted these days and so the high tension and feeling of anxiety have disappeared.
It could be because the nationalists on both sides no longer see cricket as an appropriate battleground. It is too simplistic, too small to accommodate all the unbridled hatred they have accumulated over the decades. The exit can not exceed 22 yards. War here is too sober, too polite and bloodless. The action must take place in a much more violent and bloody atmosphere. You can not teach Pakistan a lesson - yes, the new competition is teaching a lesson, not just engaging the enemy in a harmless duel - on a cricket ground there must be something else - maybe A war, where a real murder takes place.
This may be due to the fact that familiarity generates taste. This is not suitable for aggressive nationalists as Pakistani cricket stars are considered heroes in India. Remember the celebrity status players such as Zaheer Abbas, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and more recently, Shahid Afridi played in India? The adulation of cricket enthusiasts for them is certainly not good for the jingoiste feeling. This dilutes the hatred that forms the building block of the new nationalism. It's the same thing on the other side of the border.
The nationalist conflict and the virtual cessation of cricket commitments between India and Pakistan are therefore linked. As long as morale is high and political outfits see opportunities, there is little hope for cricket. It is unfortunate. Especially for those who have had the chance to experience the energy and atmosphere anticipated in an India-Pakistan match, whether in Lahore or Eden Gardens.
Without this energy, India-Pak matches are nothing. You look at it without any sense of expectations. And the celebration or feeling of foreboding with each development in the match is never the same. When the matches between the two countries turn into matches like India against Bangladesh, nothing remains to be done. You look at the procedures with some disinterest and do not put your emotions behind the team.
Someone will bring back the charm of India-Pakistan matches. Whether it is war, the feelings become berserk, the passions become wild, there is anger and sorrow. That's how they should be.