Srinagar, Kashmir 30 Dec:
Streets in Srinagar city wore a deserted look Sunday following the first ODI played between India and Pakistan. The gloomy Sunday, with no signs of the sun appearing over horizon, turned to be much celebrated following the brilliant performance by Pakistan players. People in most areas remained glued to their television screens. It is one sport that Kashmiris are solely dedicated to. Add to this the Indo-Pak rivalry; whether on ground or pavilion, it does not get any better. It is plain War, and if you happen to support this side of the border better keep your mouth shut.
With Pakistan’s bowling line crushing the most skilled batsmen of India in the first few hours, there was but little doubt that people would leave their home. Even people who worked on Sunday had tuned to their radios or were streaming telecasts from internet. Thanks to gadgets and applications, it all gets delivered, just when people want it.
The results of Sunday’s play were happily received, all except the ‘Man of the match’ award. A lot of people were expecting Nasir Jamshed to be awarded for his match-winning knock. His outstanding performance with the bat and contribution of 101 runs, which led Pakistan to a comfortable victory, would be remembered for a while. The match, as seems obvious, has restored the faith of fans on Pakistan’s performance in international cricket. Junaid Khan’s aggressive attitude and brilliant bowling spell were also appreciated. Kashmiris are fond of Pakistani bowlers, much like the fans all over the world. However, such likeness is more or less because of aggression exhibited by these bowlers.
Kashmir has a history of producing thousands of die-hard fans of Pakistan cricket team. Pakistani players are the blue-eyed boys and no matter who scores tons or take wickets, if it’s not the blue-eyed boy it’s not worth watching. Cricket and politics in the valley run as parallel ideas, often converging at many points. People do on many occasions inter-relate cricket and politics, yet such practices remain limited to constitute opinions only. The fervor and true loyalty is inexplicable and irrational. Any attempt made to describe such behavior or inclinations would be futile only. Nevertheless, there is a good number of people who take it as game only and who support the most skilled and talented.
Among sports, cricket is the most played and enjoyed in all parts of the valley. If definitions are made a little flexible, cricket may qualify to be a pertinent aspect of Kashmiri culture. Cricket makes a fascinating study as one observe the details of the kind of game played here, local cricket. There are basically two variations– the street cricket and the field cricket, and both are played with more or less the same vigour. In street cricket it is all about personal or individual gratification. The one with the bat dictates terms and enjoys the play most. There are no protections, few rules and lesser gear. A ball and a bat is all that is required, not to mention anyone who wishes to ventures in. The best part is that small experiences related to street cricket often turn into sweet memories of joy and sheer pleasure.
There re certain things about street cricket that people, definitely, cannot miss or forget. Use of stumps, better called as wickets, is a good example. If you have a wall, a small piece of charcoal will suffice. After all you just need to draw three lines and not do a complicated artwork. Incase there is no wall, use a shop hoarding, car tyre, pile of bricks, pherans if the street is a bit cleaner which as a matter of fact it never is; anything that connotes physical dimension of length and height. In street cricket, the batsman plays sensible till the ball breaks some glass following which everyone runs for life. “End the play, and go to offer prayer. Are you deaf as not to hear the call?” That is another way whence it ends, although not always.
Field cricket is a different ballgame. It is more about team performance and rivalry. Rules are observed, proper gear used and players are bound by oath of fair play, a thing always debatable. It s a limited hours game and a small bet is placed to makes things interesting. An interesting feature is the team politics in deciding as who plays where and usually the captain is the king. Yet, more interesting is the guy who holds the post of Treasurer. He is like the soldier of fortune, anything happens he takes the booty, and things do happen.
-with inputs from rising kashmir