The growing insecurities of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are obvious in its latest request, bordering on the ludicrous, but a clear indication of the harrowed times that nation's cricket is going through.
After weeks of deliberation, and the shifting of Pakistan's marquee clash with India from Dharamsala to Kolkata, the PCB now wants the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to make assurances that the margin of India's victory will not be ten wickets.
The exact words: "We expect some basic levels of hospitality from the BCCI, and the margin of defeat should not be ten wickets or more, failing which, it is upon the BCCI to take upon itself the burden of securing our cricketers in Pakistan or providing them with a safe haven and housing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is already the destination of our home series, or the UK or USA which will also be acceptable, failing of the above will put any and all future tours in jeopardy including the current World T20 clash with retrospect effect."
It's as if the PCB has already accepted that India will bat second and chase down whatever moderate total the Pakistan team posts.
The bizarre thinking behind this is not yet understood but it appears the PCB is challenged when it comes to numbers and could not arrive at a margin of defeat in runs. While some optimistic members foresaw a 40-55 run defeat, the realistic ones expected anything in the region of 80-90 runs, some old-timers were even prepared for a defeat in excess of 100.
Pakistani cricketers claim to be oblivious of PCB's latest request. Captain Shahid Afridi, in a raging fit of anger, went on to say that the BCCI was begging them for the assurance.
"It is wrongs on so many things being saids by so many peoples on a Indians part that we want to be assureds. I am myself proud Pathans race and we will go up fighting and Almighty be my witnesses we will win this big clash between old and new rivals alike. Already we have beatened India four times at the Eden Gardens in limited overs so that is record on our side after clash being postponed from Dharamsala will shift the balance in World Cup powers of record not winning ever against India marks my words you reads it here, Ramiz Bhai," Afridi said, more out of habit, than anything else.
The BCCI has refused to comment on this latest request. A spokesperson of the board, however, said, "If they have made such a request it has gone into the spam folder."
After the Pakistan men's and women's teams were issued clearances to travel to India, there was still disquiet in certain quarters, questioning why the Pakistani children's team was not issued clearances.
Virat Kohli, as always, had the last word and a few more to go with it when he said, "Sh*t happens, somebody gotta clean it up, it's up to us to help our neighbours, damned if we do, damned if we don't. But yeah, nine wickets is more realistic, I think."
When asked which of the openers he expected to chase Pakistan's total with, he said somewhat diplomatically, "Either Shikhar or Rohit, both are in excellent form."
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)
First published here