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It’s Panikstan for a reason!

Updated on: 16 June,2024 07:04 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ian Chappell |

This imbalance in an India v Pakistan cricket limited overs match was partly explained years ago by a decorated Indian cricketer: “Pakistan tries to impress India, while we are only interested in having an impact on the West”

It’s Panikstan for a reason!

Pakistan’s Haris Rauf shows his frustration during the ICC T20 World Cup match against Canada at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on Tuesday. Pic/Getty Images

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It’s Panikstan for a reason!

Ian ChappellTwo of cricket’s greatest rivalries—India v Pakistan and Australia v England—were played in a 24-hour period during the 2024 T20 World Cup.

While these fierce rivalries still generate great excitement, the Australia v England bout fell short of expectations with Australia winning the T20 match comfortably. India versus Pakistan always creates hysteria and once again this was the case even in New York as there are plenty of expats from both countries living in the USA.
Going into the heavyweight bout India had only lost one World Cup contest to Pakistan and that was in the 2021 T20 format.

This imbalance was partly explained years ago by a decorated Indian cricketer: “Pakistan tries to impress India,” he explained, “while we are only interested in having an impact on the West.”

Pak’s poor history

Pakistan cricket’s previous history may also help explain India’s stranglehold in their World Cup encounters. In early 1973, the Pakistan team were described as Panikstan because of the suicidal nature of their 92-run loss to Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They then confirmed their newly acquired nickname by losing the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground by 52 runs despite only chasing a moderate target of 159.

The Panikstan moniker was to the fore again in the 2024 World Cup as Pakistan lost a crucial contest to India in New York. After manoeuvring into a strong position where they were predicted to win, Pakistan capitulated and lost a low-scoring encounter by six runs.

This was yet another typical big brother over little brother victory and that syndrome has weighed heavily on Pakistan in World Cup encounters.

Yet, in Toronto in 1996 the two teams mixed amicably in a series at the suitably named Cricket, Skating and Curling club. The five-match series was tied at two-all when one Indian player hilariously noted, “The soldiers are lined up at the border armed with rocks but they don’t know which way to throw them.”

So well did India and Pakistan get on that I asked a mixed group of players, “Why do the two countries fight wars when the players socialise comfortably?”The answer was revealing and yet concerning. “We understand each other and eat similar food,” said an Indian player, “and the people generally get on well, but the politicians of each country like to keep the aggro simmering.”

Also Read: India vs Pakistan: Where cricket balls fly and diplomatic pleasantries die!

The pitches in the USA again generated controversy. This is particularly so of the New York venue, which attracted a lot of negative publicity and proved to be difficult for batsmen. In many cases, a score just exceeding 100 proved to be a match-winner.

The USA reputation for providing dodgy pitches isn’t a recent one. In September 1999, I covered an India A v Australia A five-match series in Los Angeles, where the respective skippers were VVS Laxman and Adam Gilchrist, both of whom went on to enjoy illustrious international careers.

The pitches on that occasion could only be described as ‘ropey’, especially when genuine pace men like Brett Lee operated. Dodgy pitches were accepted with a shrug of the shoulders in 1999, but with the USA qualifying for the Super Eights and being promoted as a viable cricket nation, this is not good enough. Mind you, USA cricket has long been wracked by organisational turmoil and this could be yet another example of the chaos that exists among their administration.

India v Australia, a blockbuster

While T20 pitches should never totally favour batsmen, there’s no excuse for surfaces that are considered dangerous. There’s a highly competitive cricket rivalry still to be played in the Super Eights— India v Australia. This has become a blockbuster contest in recent years. Even if these two teams provide yet another exciting contest it shouldn’t camouflage the USA problem. If cricket wants to make headway in the USA it has to vastly improve the administration and their pitches, while also convincing locally born players it’s a game worth playing.

The only time Pakistan have won a World Cup contest over India—in the Twenty20 format

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