Even as India was getting thrashed in Australia during the Test series, Pakistan was playing extremely well against England in the Bank Alfalah Test Series. Of course, I was enjoying the fact that the team (England) which humiliated India last year was getting the same treatment in Dubai on turning tracks.
Pakistan was playing like an amazing unit and England looked shattered with their side falling cheaply in both the matches. England came under tremendous pressure from all the sides and commentator and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram was making statements like, “England are lions only at home.”
Pakistan winning the first two matches got them the series, but Andrew Strauss remained positive and said that his team would not get bogged down because of the failure in the first two matches. I was waiting more eagerly for the third match to be played between Pakistan and England rather than for the two T20 Internationals to be played between Australia and India.
On February 1, was the first T20 match between India and Australia, but all interest in the game was gone. Moreover, I was attending Fusion 2012 here in Mumbai, where I got to hear speakers like Ajay Maken, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports; Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group; Harit Nagpal, MD, Tata Sky; LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM India; Atul Phadnis, CEO, What’s on India; Arnab Goswami, Executive Editor, Times Television; Anil Singh, MD, Procam International; Satish Menon, CEO, Sports18; and G Chandrashekhar, Editor, The Hindu Business Line.
One of the topics covered at Fusion 2012 was on ‘Is India looking at any other sport beyond Cricket?’ The answers were very clear – with the poor performance of the Indian cricket team in England and in Australia, people were ready to go beyond the game. Neo Sports is now coming up with the World Series Hockey, which should be interesting as that would also be a non-cricketing season in India, so hockey would be able to get the attention that it deserves. English Premier League will continue and hence, people are going to look beyond cricket.
Yesterday, I knew that Pakistan would be playing their last Test match and was highly anticipating Misbah to win the toss and bat first, which happened. The first over saw Anderson pick up the first wicket and the scorecard read 1 over, 1-1. Soon the score read 23/5 and then 46/7 in 23 overs. Pakistan was all out for just 99. Thus, the sad story continues for teams from the Sub-continent, like India and Pakistan as they just can’t play on a grassy pitch.
Now, BCCI is planning to take the Indian players to Dharmshala, where there is grassy and bouncy pitch, before any tour. Lack of practice on grassy tracks and too many games on slow and low tracks at home cannot be the key to winning overseas.
There is some good news at last for the Indian cricket fans, when Dhoni’s boys won the first match of the tour, squaring the T20 series 1-1 with Australia. Hope that will spur the advertisers to invest in the ODI tri-series between Australia, India and Sri Lanka. This T20 win might also get the viewership back on track for Star Cricket.