June 20, 2009

Fairy Tale of Justice and Resilience

June 20, 2009 Posted by Vijay No comments
A dream final. A final which one may never have imagined could happen so soon, after the terror attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan. A final which now seems like the God sent gift of divine justice to the cricketers who bore the brunt of that cowardly act. Pakistan, having ridden an indifferent form throughout the T20 World Cup in England, found the mettle and the resilience to wear down and choke the Proteas in the 1st semi final. Pakistan had been virtually isolated from playing cricket at home, after that terrible attack. Though they did play a 5 match ODI series against Australia, which they lost 3-2, there really wasn't any other serious cricket they played at the international level.

Coupled with the often blow hot - cold symptoms of a supremely talented side, Pakistan's run to the finals may not seem that surprising after all. There has never been a question raised about the passion of Pakistani cricketers. Often ridden by controversies on and off the field, Pakistan found maturity in Shahid Afridi, and confidence in Umar Gul to take them till the Finals at Lord's on Sunday. Moreover, after an early exit of the defending champions India, it was important that the crowds in England still poured in to witness the matches. Pakistanis being a significant population of Asian immigrants, poured in to encourage their team. And respond they did, and how !

For no fault of theirs, the Pakistani cricketers were deprived of playing international games in their own den. For no reason of theirs, their IPL participation was declined in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in 26/11. For no reason of theirs, their plans to host matches of the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the Indian sub continent was withdrawn. Another opportunity lost for the unfortunate cricketers. That's why justice is delivered by someone invisible, whose magical powers let Pakistan come through struggles at home and on the field to qualify for the World T20 final.

The Sri Lankan team on the other hand has been unbeaten in the tournament. What an unbelievable turnaround for a team, which was the recipient of the terrible attacks, when they were in Pakistan. If Pakistani cricketers are not at fault for the terror attacks, the Sri Lankan cricketers were never deserving of the attack on them on Pakistani soil. Ducking under gun shots inside a team bus in Lahore, and being inflicted with the trauma of the incident, Sri Lanka's road to the finals is the story of sportsperson's resilience. The true resilience of a side which, by sheer will and determination to tide over happenings which inflicted wounds, physically and mentally have come out even stronger. For this reason alone, my money is on Sri Lanka to win, because they deserve to.

Though Jayawardene had himself decided to step down as captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team following the Pakistan tour, he would never have wanted his tenure to end in such a tragic note. Jayawardene himself was wounded, and so was Sangakkara and Mendis. Each of them, have been influential in Sri Lanka's road to the finals. To overcome mental trauma, and shock and to then rebound by performing on the field, is truly the mark of a champion sportsman. Wasn't it in 1996 Cricket World Cup that the Australian and West Indies teams refused to tour Sri Lanka for their league matches ? In the end, Sri Lanka defeated Australia comprehensively in the World Cup final, demonstrating how Sport always has it's own unique way of serving the right judgement.

What a strange coincidence. Two countries, battling wars in their own land. Pakistan, trying to end Taliban's influence and its own battles with terrorism. Sri Lanka, which was fighting its own war against the LTTE. Both of them, undeserving of the experiences in the aftermath of tragic events, will turn up to face each other at Lord's. One can't imagine the level of joy it would bring to its countrymen who have suffered so much in the recent past. An opportunity for the wonderful cricketers of Pakistan and Sri Lanka to once and for all, exorcise the demons of Lahore. When there are claims to T20 being a game of luck, the final tomorrow will go down in the annals of Sport as an outcome of pure divine intervention !