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Millennium Post

Cricket match beats cross-border enmity

Though India successfully lived up to its reputation of being consistent in losing close games in the recent past, thousands of fans who thronged Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium hours before the scheduled start of the first T20 clash against arch rivals Pakistan will remember the match more because of the resumption of the famed South Asian cricketing rivalry after a hiatus of five long years.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since Pakistan last toured India in December 2007. While cross-border terrorism raised its ugly head with the brutal slaying of innocent lives in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the onslaught on the touring Sri Lanka team in Lahore a year later ensured that Pakistan don’t play any home series in near future.

However, despite the long-standing history of animosity, love of cricket still remains one of the very few aspects which both India and Pakistan agree upon. And it is this love which underlines the significance of distancing sports from murky politics. It’s this passion which prompted India to issue over 3,000 visas to fans from across the border.

For the record, Pakistan won the match with five wickets and two balls to spare after Indian batsmen mustered a paltry 133/9 despite getting off to a flying start. Looking at the match purely from cricketing point of view, the vociferous spectators at the near full stadium were treated to a brilliant exhibition of stroke-play and bowling prowess by players of both the sides. A dream debut by rookie Uttar Pradesh seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who scalped 3/9 from four overs, set the ground ablaze as the visitors slumped to 12/3 by the third over.

However, Kumar’s party was spoiled by India’s son-in-law Shoaib Malik, who along with skipper Mohammad Hafeez first steadied the sinking ship before unleashing a brutal counter attack which culminated with the former hoicking Ravindra Jadeja for a straight six on the fourth delivery of the final over. If the fierce rivalry we witnessed on Tuesday is anything to go by, it’s time the fans tighten up their seat belts to experience more sparkling cricketing action over the next two weeks.
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