There was a time when an India-Pakistan match lent perfect meaning to Mike Marqusee’s book War Minus the Shooting. The fans in the two squabbling nations, however, no longer see the win or loss on the cricket field as a matter of life and death that was reflected by the captains of both teams.
“The intensity is there of course,” said MS Dhoni when asked if players sense there is a lot less tension when India and Pakistan clash these days. “It (intensity) is something that you cannot really take away from the game irrespective of which opposition you are playing. India-Pakistan matches always capture the imagination of people from either side. I feel it has mellowed down to some extent, whatever the reason maybe.
You do not see many altercations on the field. But still you see very competitive cricket which I feel is very important,” reasoned the Indian skipper on the eve of their World T20 tie against Pakistan here.
Growing up, Dhoni revealed, he could feel things weren’t as simple. “Growing up, I used to watch some of the last-generation people when they were playing cricket (against Pakistan) and it used to get quite tense. There were plenty of things happening apart from cricket on the field. We used to enjoy it as kids. I am glad that it doesn't really happen anymore because when you talk about promoting cricket and promoting in the right ways, I think more often than not it is played in the right spirit,” he remarked.
Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez echoed Dhoni’s sentiments. “It is always great to know the expectations of the people and the fans around the world,” he said talking about the marquee encounter. “We are not only looking at one game. Yes, India-Pakistan game is always important but this is not the tournament itself and we want to give a good show in the whole tournament.
Yes, the first game is always important as you always want to do well in that game so that you can get the momentum right and we are looking forward to this. Hopefully, the boys will do well to get the best results for Pakistan,” he offered.