Camera by Shiv Kumar Maurya
Edit by Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Days before the most high-octane clash in the Indian cricket team's roster and we've once again seen cries for India to boycott the T20 World Cup match against Pakistan this Sunday 'in national interest'.
One TV anchor on Tuesday night surrounded himself with men who sing the same tune as he shouted, ‘you’re making it look like those one or two points are going to make a difference to us, no sir!'
Firstly, it’s two points. Not one. And more importantly, the two points from the match will most likely not make a difference to India, or India’s campaign, at all considering how they’re going in as favourites.
But it could be the difference between Pakistan getting knocked out in the group stage or progressing to the semi-final of the T20 World Cup.
So, does that work better for our ‘national interest’? To be the stepping-stone on which Pakistan sail into the semis and move one step closer to the title?
Because then what do we do if the teams meet again in the final? Refuse to play Pakistan in ‘national interest’ and gift them the T20 World Cup trophy?
You have to be honest here, for everything the BCCI do and don’t do (and trust me, the things they don’t do make a very long list) but to completely sidestep Pakistan, and Pakistan cricket, is a task they have taken to heart.
The two teams last played an ODI at the 2019 ICC World Cup, they played a T20 at the 2016 ICC World Cup and well, a Test match? Almost 14 years have passed since India and Pakistan faced off in whites.
Notice a trend there?
India have only played Pakistan in ICC tournaments for the last decade and that is the biggest setback the BCCI can deal the PCB.
Well, remember how the Australian cricket board were in losses last summer due to the pandemic, so much so that they had to even let go of their office staff? How did they make a recovery? The Indian team’s tour in the winter helped Cricket Australia generate a revenue of around Rs 1,700 crore.
India played 10 matches in Australia and Cricket Australia earned from broadcast rights and stadium revenue and sponsorship deals – what only an Indian tour can help them earn.
Those ‘honours’ have not been extended to Pakistan since 2006 when India last played a bilateral series in the country. Imagine the crores in revenue that a powerhouse team like India not touring their country has set the PCB back by.
That would hurt Pakistan and Pakistan cricket more than two free points at an ICC T20 World Cup, right?
Because keep in mind, the revenue from an ICC event goes to the ICC – so if India don’t play a match against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup – the Pakistan team and board and country actually stand to lose nothing. There’s no revenue to lose or any ticket sales to not profit from.
Pakistan only come out as winner in every sense.
Also, if we do also come to the small part of the actual cricket, India have played Pakistan in T20 internationals 8 times since, and including, the two matches at the 2007 T20 World Cup. Pakistan have beaten India just once.
They come into this World Cup ranked third in the world despite playing more T20s, in the current rankings cycles, than any other team in the top 10. India are placed second.
India’s line-up has stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and while Pakistan topped the T20 standings a few years back, they come into T20 World Cup much as a team in transition with a relatively new coach at the help and a skipper who is competing at his first T20 World Cup.
Who would you say you can foresee coming out on top of this tie?
Pakistan captain Babar Azam at his first T20 World Cup or Virat Kohli, who well, is captaining at his last T20 World Cup?
So, why gift them a win when our own victory would taste that much sweeter?