Tpan style="font-weight: 400;">here is one day every few years when every Indian is a cricket expert, when the sight of the national flag turns us into teary-eyed Kabir Khans, when we don’t mind wearing that awful sky blue shirt to work, and when we channel our inner Arnab Goswami on social media to take on fans from across the border. It is the one day when everyone from the bhakts to the libtards are on the same side of the argument. It’s the day when India clashes with Pakistan in a game of cricket. India versus Pakistan is not merely a cricket game, it is an emotion.
India and Pakistan haven’t played a bilateral series since 2008, so this year, as the two teams set up to face each other at the ICC event, the Indian fan will have to step up.
An Indo-Pak game is like a festival – more planning goes into its smooth functioning than the government put into demonetisation. You don’t watch this game on your phone, laptop, or ordinary TV – an Indo-Pak match calls for a screening. You catch hold of the person in the group with the largest TV and turn his house into a mini cricket stadium. Food and drinks are ordered in, so everyone can enjoy the game. If you work in a corporate setup, it is the responsibility of the HR to take time off from organising rangoli competitions, and forgetting holidays to make arrangements for employees to watch the game.
You must find the India jersey from your closet that you last wore when Sunil Chhetri played his 100th game for India. Stickers must be attached to bags and wristbands must be donned to prove that your a true Indian fan. Strategy and lineups must be discussed with every person you meet. Strengths and weaknesses of both the teams should be discussed and predictions that will make match fixers in Dubai proud should be made.
Even atheists pray to God on these days, begging for a Rohit Sharma century and a Jasprit Bumrah hattrick.
In the streets, electronic shops must adequately position their TVs so that no Indian misses even a minute of the game. Everyone from the hair salon wallah to the ice-cream shop owner must be tuned in, either on TV or through radio. With Jio spreading across faster than plague in Ancient Rome, there is no excuse for anyone to not be watching the game. Those who show no interest in the match should be immediately likened to Navjot Singh Sidhu, India’s newest Pakistani puppet
Remember, banter is an important aspect of Indo-Pak rivalry and nothing is off limits these days. Analogies are made using examples of wars, match fixing, crime rates, politics, and the economy. It’s a chance for Indians and Pakistanis to comment on matters even beyond cricket. Mas and behens are invoked every few seconds like corporate defaults by businessmen in India. Instances from previous games are raised, Mauka Mauka memes are shared, and stats and numbers are thrown around to drive home the point.
Once the preparations are in place, it is time for match-day rituals. Even atheists pray to God on these days, begging for a Rohit Sharma century and a Jasprit Bumrah hattrick. Weather and pitch conditions for locations that are thousands of kilometres away are followed every few hours and small victories are celebrated in advance. “India will win on a flat track.” “Pitch is turning, so it is advantage India.”
Nothing sums up the importance of an Indo-Pak game like that one uncle in every family whose sentiment echoes across India on this day: “India Cup haar jaaye chalega – bas Pakistan se mat haarna.”