When India Gave the Pak Cricket Team a Standing Ovation in 1999

Pakistan’s win against India in the ICC Champions Trophy final has triggered a debate on nationalism.

2 min read
When India Gave the Pak Cricket Team a Standing Ovation in 1999

India’s rout at the hands of Pakistan in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy final in London has triggered a fierce debate on nationalism, with some self-appointed custodians like Kamaal Khan questioning national pride.

In the immediate aftermath of India’s defeat, actor-producer Kamaal Rashid Khan went so far as to say that Virat Kohli should be banned from cricket for life for selling the pride of 130 crore Indians and that he should be put behind bars.

But way back in 1999, when the country was a different place, it was actually possible for people to celebrate Pakistan’s win without having to defend their patriotism.

And it happened in namma Chennai, a city that commentators have complimented repeatedly for having a "knowledgeable crowd". In the wake of ‘heightened’ nationalism, a video of a test match played between the two arch rivals has resurfaced.

The occasion was historic since Pakistan was playing its first test series against India in nine years, and the first on Indian soil since 1986-87.

At the end of the match, Pakistan emerged victorious by 12 runs and the whole stadium was up on its feet, magnanimously applauding in true sporting spirit. The entire Pakistani team took a victory lap around the ground with the spectators cheering them on.

The 1999 video was tweeted by Chenthil Nathan who wrote:

This was also the test match in which Sachin Tendulkar scored a valiant 136 runs in the second innings, battling severe back pain and almost took India home.

Kamaal Khan's tweet comes in the backdrop of some people in the Kashmir valley and elsewhere in the country allegedly celebrating Pakistan's win. In fact, three youngsters from Karnataka's Kodagu district – Riyaz, Zahair, and Abdul Salmaan – were arrested on 19 June for allegedly bursting crackers after Pakistan thrashed India.

Similarly on Tuesday, 23 people were booked in Kasaragod district of Kerala for lauding the opposition after India’s defeat. In both instances, action was taken by the police after a complaint was filed by a BJP leader.

Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also showed where his allegiance lay after Pakistan's win.

While one cannot deny that cricket and politics are intertwined in the two cricket-crazy nations, seeing the 1999 video puts things in perspective for many who may not remember a time when 'Go to Pakistan!' wasn't the No.1 insult on national television.

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