This is it. The Final Four. India, Pakistan and two other teams that could be Togo and Burkina Faso for all I care. Because nothing else matters until we beat Pakistan. You know a match is important when even Manmohan Singh decides to attend, taking time off from duties that include being walloped by Ms. Swaraj (currently known as the Raghu Ram of Parliament)
The PM has also invited Zardari and Gilani for the match. That’s nice – it’s always good to see Pakistanis enter the country legally.
Meanwhile, employees across India have already started working on their excuses (“The dog ate my grandmother.”) Even the BJP has planned a spur-of-the-moment walkout for Wednesday, with the Congress guys also hoping to sneak out using Gadkari for cover.
I wonder if the English had anticipated the extent to which the rivalry would build up back when they created Pakistan. I imagine it was a complex, gut-wrenching decision, involving heated debates on politics, religion and morality.
Mountbatten: OK, so if we divide the nation, it will lead to an immediate bloodbath, followed by decades of turmoil and strife…
Aide: Yes. But the cricket will be awesome.
Mountbatten: Chal done!
And now, a quick recap of the World Cup’s most memorable moments. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. The opening ceremony, starring Bryan Adams, is arguably the largest sporting event held in Bangladesh since their Taslima Nasreen Hunting Tournament a few years ago. (Fun Fact: Bangladesh was formed in 1971, which means Bryan Adams is actually older than the country he performed in)
2. Sehwag publicly chides Sreesanth for his poor bowling against Bangladesh. He forgets that it’s unwise to piss off the guy in charge of your drinking water.
3. Ads get more ridiculous, with Dilshan being forced to flick a pallu at the behest of Anjala Zaveri, an actress so obscure that if you search for her online, Google asks you to stop and think about what your life has been reduced to. Meanwhile, another ad gets downright smug as it challenges a country of brown men to “make it large”.
4. The West Indians skittle out Bangladesh for 58. Later, the West Indian bus is stoned by irate Bangladeshi fans, who mistake it for their own team bus. These IQ levels indicate that Bangladesh would be a great market for Sajid Khan films.
5. Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien stars in their whirlwind victory over England in Bangalore, scoring the fastest century in the history of the World Cup. O’Brien admits that he just wanted to wrap the game up quick so that he could reach the pub before 11.30 p.m.
6. During a group match, the Pakistanis gang up to sledge Canadian Balaji Rao. He responds with choice abuses in the native language of Canada – Punjabi.
7. India meets Australia in an epic quarter-final. Ashwin does well with the new ball, Sachin crosses the 18000-run mark, Gambhir tries to get run out and succeeds, Raina shines, Kohli flies, Brett Lee bleeds, Ponting slumps and Yuvraj smashes the winning boundary. I’m trying to type a punchline here, but my fanboy erection keeps getting in the way.
Three days to go for one of the most awaited contests of this decade. Three days to go before Rameez Raja wets himself every time a Pakistani player does something extraordinary, such as inhale. Three days to go before otherwise cultured Indians and Pakistanis start exchanging pleasantries about female relatives. In the spirit of cricket, all I’d like to say is that may the best team win – as long as it’s Indian.
(Note: This is my HT column, dated 27th March, 2011)