To the haters: It's a battle of teams, not nations

We see the match as a contest between Pakistan and India the teams - not the countries.

Zainab Imam March 30, 2011
The semi-final between Pakistan and India – dubbed the mother of all battles – finally takes place today.

Every cricket fan and everyone else – who may or may not be interested in cricket – has been touched by the anticipation in the air.

However, while the contagious excitement has spread joy, several souls seem to be miffed. In their effort to be ambassadors of peace, they have accused us, the ‘cricket crazies’, of being jingoistic and nationalistic. But they seem to have completely missed the point.

What makes this semi-final, or any other Pakistan-India match, such a thriller is not the “decades-old rivalry between the nuclear-armed nations that have fought three wars”. Rather, it’s because Pakistan and India so rarely play against each other. The last time the teams met in a World Cup match was in March 2003. In other ODI tournaments, their last match was in the Asia Cup in June 2010 and the head-to-head series launched in 2004 grinded to a halt in 2007.

This is why for us – those who actually follow cricket – it is such a big deal. We don’t see it as a contest between Pakistan and India the countries, we see it as a contest between Pakistan and India the teams. We see it as a contest between wizards with the bat and magicians with the ball. We see it as a contest between Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar, or Virender Sehwag and Umar Gul. While watching or discussing the match, a true cricket fan is least bothered with which country has bigger nuclear stockpiles. Our thoughts centre on a beautiful swinging yorker or a devastating sixer.

Just because I am overwhelmed every time Pakistan face India does not mean I do not want peace in the region or yearn for it any less than someone who couldn’t care less about the match.

Competition in sport is natural. In fact, the biennial 129-year-old Ashes series between England and Australia is still followed religiously by fans in those countries.

A match is, after all, a contest and only one side can win. There is no logic behind supporting both sides, so I might as well choose one and hope that the best team wins.
Zainab Imam A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam ( and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Majeed | 13 years ago | Reply Right. Now that you have given us your piece of mind about how trivial this whole India vs Pakistan match was in the grand scheme of the world (and you are right), please tell us why it is so important for women to have matching shoes and bags for all their outfits. Am sorry, but I am deliberately coming across as sexist to make a point. The point being that men look at sports very differently than women. And while you are entitled to your viewpoint, please know that your male readership is going to take it with a pinch of salt. Men tend to know the 'triviality' of it all ... we go along with it in a 'serious' way though. Because, given all the other things in the world that we get squarely pinned and blamed for by you know who, it is good to know that there are some turfs which are entirely per our whims and fancy. So, no need to spoil a dish, already spoilt. All in good zest.
ali | 13 years ago | Reply well............ totally agree with u .......... MAY THE BEST TEAM ON THE DAY WINS.......... and it actually happened.......... i think IMRAN KHAN made a very correct statement that the team that will handle pressure will win and at the end of the day... INDIA came out on top...... but we still love TEAM PAKISTAN and we still love cricket..............
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