Shahid Afridi — Pot calling kettle black

Shahid Afridi, the vanquished captain of Pakistan Cricket team, accused Indians, Indian cricketers and media of blatant bias and went on to say that Indians will never have hearts like Pakistanis. This smacks of sheer frustration. He should know that Indians, including cricketers and media, have always been extra supportive of the Pakistani cricket team.

Right from 1952, when the Pakistani cricket team toured India under the stewardship of haughty Abdul Hafeez Kardar, till now, Indians never showed even a semblance of disrespect to Pakistani players. On the contrary, when India went to Pakistan after a hiatus of 17 years in 1978 under the captaincy of Bishan Singh Bedi, it turned out to be one of the most acrimonious series not just between India and Pakistan, but also the worst in the history of cricket. Mind you, India was playing against Pakistan after 1961 and was a guest, yet the treatment meted out to the Indian team was such that the less said the better.

Pakistan, as Sunil Gavaskar put it in perspective, was playing with 13 players (two partisan umpires), onlookers were abusing the whole Indian team, Pakistani media was calling Bedi a gali (street) cricketer and B S Chandrashekhar a polio-stricken apology for a bowler. Oxford-educated Imran was generously using F word even for his ‘friend’ Gavaskar, who batted magnificently in all the three tests scoring, 89, 97, 111 and 137. In the Lahore test, Gavaskar (97) and Chauhan (92) were given an unfair out by the biased umpires. Pakistani pacers Salim Altaf and Sarfaraz Nawaz were openly abusing the Indian team. There were only two genuine sympathisers from the Pakistan cricket team, the ultra-suave Zaheer Abbas and the late Wasim Raja, elder brother of Ramiz Raja. They publicly apologised on behalf of the uncouth Pakistani team and unsporting crowd.

And whenever Pak team came to India, the players were treated like royalty. In the very first series between the two countries in 1952, Vinoo Mankad didn’t react to Kardar’s caustic comments because Pakistanis were the guests. “It doesn’t behove the host to retaliate,” said the warm-blooded Gujarati. Even a volatile captain like Lala Amarnath overlooked Kardar’s outbursts. Barring a minor incident of an Indian fan cutting Hanif Muhammad’s palm with a blade while shaking hand with him in 1961, the whole Pakistani team enjoyed the best of hospitality in India.

Can Pakistan ever forget the 1979-80 series played in India and the magnificent hospitality of the thousands of Indian cricket fans in Calcutta’s Eden Garden when Asif Iqbal and Javed Miandad accepted the challenge and put up a very spirited display of running between the wickets like sprinters? It was Asif Iqbal’s swan song. And how Pakistan behaved, when India toured in 1982? Imran was bowling reverse swing and was often bowling from 21 yards instead of the official 22 yards! Their media was openly supporting Pakistani cricketers and calling Indians inept in all departments. The same vicious atmosphere was felt even in 1989. This may have weakened after 2000 when India went to Pakistan and defeated them, yet the media and crowd behaved partially.

Though it may sound pretty harsh, but the truth is: Pakistan is an ungrateful country. Pakistani artistes and ghazal singers are always welcome in India. Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali, Iqbal Bano among others, have more fan following in India than they’ve in Pakistan. Pakistanis are very bad losers and often impute their failures to reasons that have nothing to do with cricket. Not just cricket, in every sphere, Pakistanis have weird explanations for their defeats and debacles. Pakistan still believes that Pakistan Air Force was much better equipped than IAF and the former got the better of the latter during 1965 war. Ask the then Air Chief Marshal of Pakistan, Noor Khan. Despite being a very fine fighter pilot, the man still labours under the belief that PAF was better than IAF in 1965. This is really pitiable and smacks of inferiority complex.