Pakistan paceman Sohail Khan set the tone for the India clash the day he was selected for the World Cup. “Kohli hoga apne ghar ka,” Khan thundered the day he was chosen in an interview to a news television station.
From there on, for the past week, there has been an attempt to raise the temperature ahead of the Indo-Pak clash in the World Cup. Every news channel in Pakistan and India have tried to team up, do special shows in English and Hindi/Urdu.
But despite all the attempts to generate hype and bombastic statements from panelists comprising of former players of all hues on television stations in both countries, there was something missing in the whole scenario.
This contest no longer had that edge that it enjoyed in the 1990s. Almost all the players were new on the world stage and so there was no real rivalry to speak of.
Yet the news networks stuck to it, because there was no way to build up to a tournament like the World Cup. It has been a tepid start to the tournament and even the Indo-Pak contest has not been able to help raise the temperature.
Pakistan’s news networks like Samaa TV, Geo News, ARY, Dunyaa News and even PTV Sports, got together with India’s news stations like Times Now, CNN-IBN and News X in the English language segment to help rekindle the rivalry.
In what was appalling television, no panelist could ever get in a word in time. A time lag ensued with a number of guests trying to speak at the same time. This was hardly good television forcing most to reach out for their remote control.
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Anchors indulging in creating staged fights did not help matters because it looked very silly when the television was switched on.
This writer was part of a show on Dunyaa News, where former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz was also airing his views. As his wont in the lead-up to an Indo-Pak clash, Nawaz raised the spectre of bookies and fixing.
“This time some of the bookies like Mukesh Gupta and (a senior BCCI official whose name shall remain anonymous) are no longer with the Indian team. So Pakistan will win,” declared Nawaz live on television.
He further went on to allege that he had been aware of attempts to fix the Indo-Pak matches in the 1996 and 1999 editions of the World Cups. He even went onto name a few notable Pakistan players of that era as being involved in the murky affair.
All this made for great news television, a day before the big match, but giving a platform to a loose cannon does not always make good sense.
This entire spectacle has finally ended with Pakistan losing yet again. Television sets have been broken and a man committed suicide in Pakistan following the loss.
Thankfully, as former South Africa star Jonty Rhodes, the lone neutral voice in Pakistan Television (PTV) Sports panel said: “Once this paralysis by analysis ends, Pakistan can get back to playing and hopefully winning.” Clearly, Jonty was exhausted by the over exposure to the Indo-Pak debate and wanted it to end sooner rather than later.
Hopefully there is a lesson for one and all in that Jonty swipe.