Can you imagine a cricket match where both sides win? Absurd as it may seem, this is exactly what may happen in India-Pakistan cricket match now being held in different cities of Pakistan.
Now, cricket is not simply a game here. It's part of a bigger game between India's Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Pakistan's President Parvez Musharraf. The stakes are very high(more for Vajpayee since the Lok Sabha election is round the corner) and none of them can afford to lose the match. The current political climate dictates that they are at par in every respect, and under no circumstances any form of oneupmanship could be allowed into their gesture.
So the first match goes to India as a gift by Pakistan. India reciprocates by losing the second match at Pindi. Subsequent matches are most likely to follow the same spirit and pattern. I'm not sure, though, how the final and decisive match would be managed to keep the crucial evenness.
The cricketers, as revealed in today's front-page picture of most Indian dailies, have cringed to the wishes of their political masters. The forced smile on their faces and their funky look in company of general
Musharraf are a tell-tale sign of their trapped condition.
It's of course fun and hip, by today's standard, to hijack and use cricket as a tool to improve the relation between two neighbouring countries. But will anything really come out of it given that the two countries have long and deep-rooted discord?