Do Pakistani Cricket, Hockey Players Appease India? – OpEd

Obviously noone appeases anybody without getting rewards or benefits. This is not a Newton’s law, but a generally accepted truth.

Of late, Pakistani cricketers and hockey players are trying to make Indian teams happy by underplaying for their country. Is it for extra money or for some other more important reasons?

Put in simple language, is the Pakistani government sending a crucial message to New Delhi though sport mischief? Let us probe it.

India and Pakistan used to play hockey as equals, even in cricket Pakistani team offered stiff and tough opposition. The aggressive nature of Pakistani team many times won titles and medals.

Of late, however, Pakistani teams play badly, meekly surrendering before its nuclear neighbor India.

There could be two reasons for that kind of abject behavior. One is that Pakistan seeks Indian support for the entry of Pakistani cricketers in IPL and make money. India has denied Pakistani batboys and bowlers some space in IPL drama as they all want to play for Indian IPL.

The Pakistan hockey team is literately out of Sultan shah hockey in Malaysia by deliberately underplaying in order to appease India.

Pakistan hockey community has blasted the national federation (PHF) after the green shirts were routed 1-5 by arch-rivals India in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Tuesday. “This is what happens when the Pakistan Hockey Federation continues to appoint its favorites to key positions and ignores merit and the need of the hour,” Olympian Samiullah said. He said it was shameful to witness the way India drubbed Pakistan today. “No matter what we do in an international event but whenever we play India our players have always picked up their game and shown passion. But today India showed how quickly it was moving ahead in hockey,” Samiullah said.

Olympian Ayaz Mahmood blamed Pakistan’s poor showing in the Azlan Shah Cup to the circumstances that the national team went through before its departure for Malaysia. “Just before the tournament, the manager and chief coach Hanif Khan left the training camp in protest over selection issues. Then the PHF again brought back Khawaja Junaid as chief coach when in the past he has failed to deliver,” he said. Another former player Ahmed Alam added: “Our hockey is just not improving at all even after the federation was changed. It is clear we need to bring in a foreign coach and support staff now or we will be nowhere in a few months time.”

The PHF also came in for criticism recently when they turned down an invitation to send the national team to the Champions Trophy in London this summer. Former captain Hasan Sardar also rued the dismal state of Pakistan hockey. “Pakistan was already out of the Olympics and before that the World Cup. Now we are losing by such a big margin to India. A lot of brainstorming is required to set things right. The federation needs to reassess its priorities,” he said.

Pakistan’s crushing defeat by India generated criticism in Pakistan. Though Pakistan exited early, in the playoff for the last position Canada let Pakistan put 5 goals and win it, thereby reducing the heat a bi tin Pakistan.

On the strength of ‘historic’ win over Pakistan, India could defeat Malaysia 5-0 to reach final against Australia. Whether or not Australia also would be kind to India was not clear until the in the final tournament took place on April 16. Australia thrashed India mercilessly 4-0. In the most of first half India adopted disruptive strategy to deny Australia any goal. Later, Australia stabilized to put 4 goals as its general quota. Though India may be happy it could reach the finals to face the formidable Australians, the fact that it could not manage even one goal must most disappointing and worrying for India for quite some time.

The strategy of Pakistan, Malaysia to help India reach the final is a waste. Like in university admission for research programs, etc, the committee gives more marks in the written exam to enable the particular candidates to let the interview committee to be impressed by the ‘work done” by those candidates and to admit them for the research program. Pakistan, Canada and Malaysia seemed to have worked for the promotion of India. But India could not win the title.

Not only in hockey even in cricket has Pakistan underpaid against India. In World Cup T20 Pakistan apparently was under pressure to underplay in favor of India winning the cup this year. Pakistan’s early exit from the World T20, which the West Indies won, prompted a wave of criticism in the cricket-mad country, with widespread calls to revamp the country’s domestic structure. Fast-bowler Wasim Akram, who actively supports Indian causes, said the team had been exposed in all departments and were miles behind their competitors.

Pakistan’s exit did not help Indian win the cup, however, as West Indies somehow has managed it at the last moment with English help.

On Mar 19, 2016 it appeared it all panned out as Indian teams wanted and every Indian fan wished. First the rain gods relented to let the marquee game get underway and then Pakistani team blessed Virat Kohli, the champion, to get away with a good 50 runs, making the difference between the two teams. But India did not let any Pakistan batboy shine as expected by Pakistan in response to Pakistani favor. Pakistani team, Pakistani fans and even government agencies are deeply hurt by this misbehavior of India which failed the convention of returning the favors in a systematic manner.

India was alive in the ICC World Twenty20, and it comes at the cost of Pakistan, who remains winless against India across the ODI and T20 world cups. 118 was a tricky chase on a turning track, but Pakistan’s move to play four pacers backfired in the 18-over game, which India finished in 15.5 overs with Kohli staying unbeaten on a sublime 55 in 37 balls, to celebrate the six-wicket win. The performance gave India their first win of the tournament, after an upset defeat against New Zealand in Nagpur. And for the record, it became 11/11 for India against Pakistan in ICC events. Pakistani help boosted Indian morale in a big way.

After the great crushing defeat, skipper Shahid Afridi, focusing on IPL chances said: “First of all, I want to congratulate Dhoni and his team for playing well. I did not expect the pitch to spin so much, but no excuse. We were ‘short by 30-35 runs’. Their spinners bowled well. I think we didn’t bowl in the right areas and I didn’t bowl well. Virat Kohli played an ‘awesome innings’ but he did not elaborate on how Kohli got so many runs.

Shahid Afridi became a WC sacrifice. The 36-year-old so-called all-rounder and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had hinted that World T20 could well be his last as skipper. After the defeat by India, Pakistani media began criticizing the Afridi team as a buffoon team, playing for India. Facing criticism for Pakistan’s dismal show in the ICC World Twenty20, Shahid Afridi stepped down as captain of the team but he will continue to play in the shortest format of the game. The Afridi-led Pakistan failed to make it to the semifinals of the World Twenty20 in India, where his comments also drew the ire of former players.

“Today, I wish to inform my fans in Pakistan and all over the world that I am relinquishing the captaincy of the T20 Pakistani team of my own volition,” Afridi said in a statement.

Afridi, however, asserted that he will be available for selection as a player in the team even though PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan has made it clear that the all-rounder is out of tune with the latest techniques and no longer a surety in the side. The mercurial cricketer played 27 Tests for Pakistan before retiring from the format in 2010 with 1716 runs and 48 wickets. In 398 ODIs, he has 8064 runs and 395 wickets, while 98 T20 International appearances have fetched him 1405 runs and 97 wickets.

Afridi found himself mired in controversies during Pakistan’s World T20 campaign. First, he drew flak in Pakistan for stating that he and his players were loved more in India than back home. Later, Pakistan lost three of their four group stage games, including a high-voltage clash against arch-foes India, to bow out of the tournament. Amid the dismal on-field run, Afridi stirred up another controversy by specifically thanking Kashmiris for cheering his team in Mohali. The remark was criticised by the BCCI with Board Secretary Anurag Thakur saying that the cricketer should avoid making political statements.

Not only Afridi, even the coach also stepped down. Post the World T20 debacle, Afridi had sought forgiveness from the people of his country for failing to live up to their expectations. Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis resigned on Monday weeks after his team’s humiliating exit from the World Twenty20 tournament at the group stage. The 2009 champions had been widely blasted by fans following a lacklustre performance with just one victory against lowly ranked Bangladesh and big losses to India, New Zealand and Australia. The 44-year-old took on the job for the second time in 2014, having previously held the post in 2010-11.

He made a formidable partnership with Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq to lift the team to number two in the Test rankings late last year, a spot they had previously attained in 2006.

The fast-bowling legend failed, however, to reverse Pakistan’s fortunes in the game’s shorter formats, with the team ranked a lowly seventh and eighth place in Twenty20 and one-day internationals respectively.

West Indies needed 19 runs in last 6 balls (one over) which was an impossible task without the bowler help, The most dramatic end to a world event you would ever see, Stokes to bowl the final over.

Captain Morgan and Stokes have a deliberation about the field. Apparently they decided to finish off the match without going for an extra super over. If Stokes resorts to dotball technique he is well versed with, Windies would lose and England could be the world champions. If Stokes alternatives with single and dotball, again WI would win and even if he offers 2 or 3 runs per ball, again WI cannot win. So 4s and 6s are only option for Stokes to let Windies shine, since India has fallen unexpectedly and against its declaration.

But England decided not to be so. However, Stokes was a kind dramatician, wanting WI to enjoy only 6s and win the match easily. So, Stokes offered Brathwaite only 6,6,6,6, in the first four f balls and WI did exactly was expected of them- dancing all over and enjoy liquor. However the same Brathwaite who ‘hit’ only 6s in the last over of the final against England could not hit even singles and was out as quickly as possible in the ongoing IPL The reason? Bowlers did not let him hit any 6 or 4. This happens to Gayle and other big ‘hitters’. .

Pakistan seems to be scared of India in getting Pakistani teams destroyed though sustained efforts. Indian obnoxious role in getting Pakistani bowler Aamir from international cricket tournaments came as a big shock and pain for Pakistani cricket and insult for Pakistani government. Since India controls cricket boards and ICC, Pakistan could not do anything to save their best bowler and he had to suffer for many years before he could be allowed to rejoin the team. Aamir seems to have lost his grip over the ball as his performance in the T20WC matches proved.

It is known, Pakistani payers are fond of visiting India and spend time in Mumbai and other towns on ‘business’ or just like that. They don’t want nay restriction from Indian side to Pakistani visits to India. This could be on motivating factor for Pakistani teams to collapse in front of Indian teams.

If one observes closely, it is clear India plays for India and let India know that.

Possibly, Pakistani teams received ‘special packages’ for their kind behavior towards neighbor India. However, anyone is eager to know the details of the ‘deals’, sorry they are not made available for the public.

However, this kind of mischievous behavior by Pakistani teams confuses the world. Afridi’s resignation or finding a new coach for cricket team or changing the hockey coach may not be the solution for Pakistan suffering from too many weaknesses. Foremost, Pakistani teams must change their basic attitude to tournaments. Give and take policy being religiously pursued by Pakistani teams has done enough damage to them. In cricket, Pakistani team prefers to bowl first, offering 50s, 100s etc to the opponent batboys and a big total too as an encouraging gift in anticipation of ‘return favors’ from them. These ‘return’ 100s and 50s help the Pakistani batboys get false prestige, more money and rewards in the country while deliberately let the nation down by such fixings. So cheap!

Pakistan must stop this devilish practise of bribing and try to win the tournament as their prime motive. The awful big total given to the opponent team is the cause of self defeat. Of late, Pakistan offers very big total deliberately so that they would try to chase down it but that never happens.

In hockey also, Pakistan is quick to let the opponent put a goal and then expects return favor from the opponent. At times it happens but not always. India did not replay to Pakistani overtones but Pakistan continued to assist Indian team. One has no idea about the value of ‘secret packages’ Pakistan may have got from India for letting Indian team shine at least for the time being.

Do Pakistanis think India would invite cricket and hockey players for IPL Hockey PL, and ISL etc in appreciation of their services to India?

Abraham Lincoln has said none can fool the world for too long. Do India and Pakistan think they fool the world forever? Maybe they are exceptions?


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Dr. Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is a columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics. He is an expert on Mideast affairs, as well as a chronicler of foreign occupations and freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). Dr. Ruff is a specialist on state terrorism, the Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA), commentator on world affairs and sport fixings, and a former university teacher. He is the author of various eBooks/books and editor for INTERNATIONAL OPINION and editor for FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Palestine Times.

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