February 14, 2020
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Like, Why?

A few stray thoughts, a few general observations, a few points of view and a few questions...

Like, Why?
Like, Why?
And, after three days of the Union home ministry's unsuccessful, low-cost 'India Whining' campaign in the run-up to the Pakistan tour, a few stray thoughts, a few general observations, a few points of view and a few questions..

  • Like, why now? Why did it take exactly 112 days after Atal Behari Vajpayee announced a step-by-step process for normalising relations with our "arch rivals" for the security fears to dawn on L.K. Advani's mandarins?

  • Like, sure, the attempts on President Musharraf's life may have weighed on their minds. But the PM himself visited the country in January. Could it be that, after he left, some ally of the ruling alliance in Pakistan dug up pitches or threatened to unleash snakes among spectators to disrupt the series?

  • Like, everybody is hissing about the feelgood balloon being punctured by an adverse showing, thus affecting the bjp's fortunes. But if feelgood is for real, why is it so fragile? And is there any correlation between cricket results, voter mood and poll outcome?

  • Like, to blame cricket defeats for adverse election verdicts is the ultimate insult to the intelligence of the Indian voter.

  • Like, say what you will, the hints to postpone, cancel, curtail or stagger the tour has unwittingly reinforced Wasim Akram's audacious accusation not too long ago that Indians were unwilling to play Pakistan not because of cross-border terrorism but the fear of losing.

  • Like, if you notice, politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, policemen, college teachers are all saying we must go to Pakistan now at all costs. Everybody, except the very people who will go there and face the music.

  • Like, it is easy to pooh-pooh the security fears if you are not a player or his family member, as approximately 999,998,682 of us aren't. But imagine what must be going through the mind of G. Sailaja. Oh, she was the one who married V.V.S. Laxman last week.

  • Like, nobody can really understand the players' plight: damned if they do, damned if they don't. The former English opener Graeme Fowler writes of touring India shortly after a British diplomat had been shot dead. When he faced the first ball, says "Foxy", his mind was wondering if, sitting among the 55,000 spectators, was somebody with a gun pointed at his head.

  • Like, we should not ever forget that Saurav & Co are trained cricketers, not soldiers or commandos. They may be ambassadors of peace but their primary skill is to hurl/hit a leather ball of five-and-a-half ounces. They can only do that well if their mind is at ease, not if they are looking over their shoulder all the time for a grenade or a brick.

  • And if some of our boys do decide to opt out of the tour, as Dilip Vengsarkar did in 1989, can those of us who have only held a remote-control in our lives accuse the players of lacking courage and/or "killer instinct"?

  • Like, by refusing to let Indian security men accompany the team, is L.K. Advani giving the BCCI a long rope to hang for defying him? Or is he ensuring that our "arch rival" knows who will be held responsible for any eventuality? Either way, can that be making our cricketers feel any good?

  • Like if the home ministry and bcci were genuinely concerned about the players' safety, they could have quietly got on the phone with their cash-crunched counterparts and asked them to seek a postponement. They would have obliged and everybody would have emerged unscathed.

  • Like, Australia notwithstanding, do the fears about security provide a tired team a readymade excuse for defeat, especially after a gruelling, 86-day tour has left its entire bowling attack—Zaheer, Nehra, Agarkar, Harbhajan and Kumble—hobbling from clinic to hospital?

  • Like, amid all the hoo-ha, sponsors, advertisers and TV channels have been like Buddha in their patience.They know that whether the tour is held now or later, in Pakistan or elsewhere, there is a killing to be made.

  • Like, all things considered, a good prayer to send up before this historic tour begins would be to hope for the kind of world-beaters the previous two historic tours produced: Kapil Dev emerged from the 1978 edition, Sachin Tendulkar from 1989.

  • And these three final points of view: One, North Block and South Block are two buildings separated by the same political party. Two, Atal Behari Vajpayee has shown just who the 'Loh Purush' is when push comes to shove. And three, the best result for peace, politics, communal harmony—and lest we forget, cricket—would be a 0-0 or 1-1 series tie.
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