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Redemption and Defiance

by Bored Guest

A Sunday in late June. Father's Day to be exact. A World Cup final at Lord's. Pakistan is on fire, and have just demonstrated total dominance in their semi-final against a team from down under. Shahid Afridi is a player to watch out for. Razzaq is an important piece of the puzzle as well. Pakistan's opponent will be a previous World Champion.

This scenario could surely apply to this Sunday's ICC T20 final. Or, we could rewind 10 years back, almost exactly to the day, when Pakistan took on Australia and were thoroughly embarrassed in the process. That day, Pakistan scored a paltry 132 - a score that would not even be considered enough in the T20 form, and were summarily thrashed by Australia.

So, will this Sunday be the day that Pakistan finally redeems itself, and puts to rest the shame and embarrassment of a decade ago? As a Pakistan cricket fan, I certainly hope so. However, I think a winner will be decided well before anyone lifts the cup - cricket will be the winner as soon as the two teams take the field.

In a sense, the tournament could not have had more deserving finalists. Certainly their on-field performances warrant their inclusion, more so Sri Lanka than Pakistan. But it is the off-field events that have made their inclusion in the final so significant.

Both countries have been hit by devastating natural disasters in the last few years. Both countries have been caught up in bloody civil wars that have wrecked daily life and created large numbers of displaced people. Both countries are struggling to emerge from recent violence. And both countries were the targets of the horrific terrorist attacks in Lahore a few months back.

There are certain events that make it seem as if nothing will ever be the same again. I surely felt that way after the shock of the Lahore attacks - I wondered whether cricket could ever be played anywhere, and whether the players even felt it was worth it. But then I remembered when American late night comedians returned to joking a week or so after the 9/11 attacks; because they said that the show must go on. Similarly, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and cricket as a whole, paused for reflection, but then were determined to make the show go on.

To make one more geopolitical reference, President Obama said the following in his Inauguration address: "We say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." I think cricket fans across the world share that same sentiment about cricket and those who choose to use violence against this great sport. This Sunday's T20 final is the ultimate act of defiance against evil. Cricket will prevail!

I will watch this final in anticipation of a great contest, and with the tremendous desire to see Pakistan hold a major trophy for the first time in 17 years. But, most importantly, I will watch it in memory of those who were killed in Lahore. And also in the hope that, regardless of result, millions of people in South Asia will forget about their daily miseries for at least a few hours. Maybe, just maybe, the image of cricket rising from the ashes will rekindle the hope within them.

The winners may lift a trophy, but cricket will lift the spirits of millions on Sunday. Cricket Zindabad!

by SledgeHammer
SledgeHammer is the co-author of the cricket blog Well Pitched


straight point said...

welcome on bored sledge...

exactly my sentiments...but you have put it more comprehensively... beautifully... :)

Gaurav Sethi said...

Welcome on Bored Sledge!

That's an incredibly moving narrative on cricket and the times we live in.

I don't remember last when a game sans India thrilled me on so many different levels.

Sunny Naradmuni said...

I loved the logo of Bored beyond boundaries.The post is great and shares a love beyond borders.Its amazing how the subcontinental dimensions of cricket have taken over the game.Sri Lanka, Pakistan,Bangladesh, India and now Afghanistan ! Everything we do here becomes epic and mythic- Kirkitayana !

Wasim said...

It was a pleasure to read your article Sledge, you expressed our emotions beautifully.
Certainly cricket will be the winner and the show will continue.

Bhaskar Khaund said...

Welcome on Bored Sledge - great post there ! look forward to the the game tommorow

SledgeHammer said...

Thanks everyone! Really appreciate the feedback.

Anonymous said...

as they say this is triumph of human spirit.