Why it is fun to support Pakistan

So, go ahead and call us seditonaries. Or whatever else suits you.

Updated: March 8, 2014 3:07 pm

Pakistan zindabad. There, I said it. Now sue me. Or do whatever you deem is right, just like you labelled those Kahmiri university students in Meerut anti-national.

The choice, my friend, is all yours.

The other day, a couple of my colleagues and I clapped at our seats as Shahid Khan Afridi did what Shahid Khan Afridi does from time to time – remind you of just why you once fell in love with this sport, or a sporting contest in general. Against India (yes, our India), Afridi smoked a few sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin to beat the world champions in the last over. And momentarily, everything seemed right with the game. We cheered, many glared.

The glare had nothing to do with patriotism (misplaced, if it were), India, or the team’s precarious position in the Asia Cup after the loss. Hardly. The glare questioned our audacity at rooting for the ‘arch-rivals’ in a public space. For when we did it again a couple of days later, as Afridi began turning a lost cause around against Bangladesh, the piercing glances returned.

Come to think of it, those stares have been around since the beginning of my cricket-viewing – since a neighbour asked me not to return to his house after I had danced when Imran Khan hoisted a crystal globe. I was seven and of course didn’t understand the bile. Twenty-one years later, I still find it hard to.

How could you not have fallen in love with the Class of ‘92, consisting of boys handpicked off the streets by Imran (who later admitted that his drive to win the World Cup came from his fundless and yet-to-be-built cancer hospital)? How can you not adore a system that lays as much emphasis on talent-scouting fast bowlers from tape-ball cricket as the rest of the world does in structured pace academies?

It’s hard not to romanticise both the good and the ugly. Do you not feel deeply for a bunch of players that haven’t played in front their home fans for the last four years? Umar Akmal, for example, has represented Pakistan in 16 Tests and 93 ODIs. A home match for him has been everywhere from Yorkshire to Sharjah, Christchurch to Colombo. Everywhere but Pakistan.

Beyond the boundary and within as well, Pakistan cricket has been in a state of unrelenting turbulence for a long, long time.

But when an Akmal or an Afridi tell you why you mustn’t give up on them just yet, it’s impossible to resist the urge to stand up and applaud. Come Saturday, as they take on Sri Lanka in the final, we’ll perhaps be at it again.

So, go ahead and call us seditonaries. Or whatever else suits you.

Aditya is a principal correspondent based in Delhi 

aditya.iyer@expressindia.com

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  1. A
    Aamir
    Mar 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm
    Today this article made me smile. I always used to tell my Indian friends......Whenever India has been in a final against any other nation, being a stani, I have supported India..and I know many more who have...... but never saw the same from the indian side. So thank you dear writer. Shows there is more unity amongst internally than what is shown out there. We should play more. Its a dream come true to see Indo-Pak play. I love India. I love stan. We are the champions!!
    Reply
  2. a
    amh7
    Mar 6, 2014 at 9:14 pm
    I meant fans of Tendulkar in stan*
    Reply
  3. C
    Chatin Sharma
    Mar 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm
    So a stani Fan supporting Tendulkar should be thrown out of his University? No, No. Very good column Sir!
    Reply
  4. W
    Waqas
    Mar 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    being a stani I hv rooted for Indian players many times,it does not mean I am a rebellion of stani nation.Thank u for writing such an awesome article.
    Reply
  5. H
    Hasan
    Mar 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm
    I always root for India, especially when they play against Australia, England and South Africa. I was born in Karachi.
    Reply
  6. A
    Ayaz
    Mar 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm
    Applauding a good performance isn't bad,Doing it with intentions to abuse someone else's feeling is wrong,i am not quite sure what were the intentions of those Kashmiri's ,but writer have shared a mature point of view
    Reply
  7. P
    Pakistani
    Mar 10, 2014 at 8:17 am
    As a stan, I would like to say I have applauded VVS Laxman (My all time favorite - yes more than Saeed Anwar or Miandad or Ponting in terms of style and cl), Azharuddin, Dravid and Tendulkar. When I watched Gambhir play a test against stan in 2005 in India, I could not help but admire his guts. I applauded Sehwag's triple century in stan. Every time, I was chastised but Cricket is bigger than the bigots around us. Thank you Aditya for a brilliant article! Rest ured there are people like you on this side of the border and may be just may be one day we will learn to co exist peacefully and in harmony.
    Reply
  8. S
    Sanjay
    Mar 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    Are you out of your mind Mr. Aditya Iyer ? You can't play with the emotion attached with the game.. and hence with the nation. Cheering for the stan clearing showing up something wrong with the group of people who is doing intentionally to hurt others. Cheering w bunch of people at the same time I can't see here anything related to Game of Cricket..
    Reply
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