KARACHI: Perhaps one of the most intense cricket rivalries is the one between Pakistan and India. When the two face each other on the field, emotions run high. But surely, political antagonism should never make it onto the playing field, right? Last weekend, Pakistan faced India on the latter’s home ground for the 12th match of the World Cup and it became obvious that the Indians were in no mood to showcase sportsman spirit.
Prayers and Gaza
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of Islamophobia in India. From
hijab bans to incidents of violence against Muslims, there are now complaints about Muslim players offering their prayers. Pakistani wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan is known to be a devout Muslims and often during drink breaks, is seen praying on the field. However, this seemingly did not sit well with Indian lawyer Vineet Jindal. He filed an official complaint with the International Cricket Council (ICC) against Mohammad Rizwan and his prayers.
In his complaint to ICC Chairman Greg Barclay, Jindal stated, “This is a complaint about Pakistan Cricket Player, Mohammad Rizwan, who was seen offering namaz on the cricket field during his team’s opening match of the ongoing ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 on Friday (October 6) against the Netherlands in Hyderabad.” The complaint continued, “The act of Mohammad Rizwan when he read namaz on the cricket field amid many Indians is symbolic of the intentional depiction of his religion which stands against the spirit of the sports.” He also claimed that the player is “defeating the spirit of sports.”
Ironically enough, this is the second complaint registered against Rizwan, in India, over his display of faith. The first was when he made a century against Sri Lanka, and dedicated it to the people of Gaza on X. However, the ICC didn’t take any action.
Moreover, when Rizwan got out and made his way back to the enclosure, the Indian audience chose to taunt him with Hindu mantras, in order to cajole a reaction out of him. For his part, Rizwan did not respond.
Booing Babar Azam
While many Pakistan cricket fans wanted to travel to India for the World Cup, their travel plans never panned out. Pakistanis were denied visas and so, the crowd in Ahmedabad was compromised almost completely of Indians.
When the Pakistani skipper took to the field, almost the entire stadium of over 100,000 people, mostly Indians, took the opportunity to boo him whilst he spoke. The crowd was becoming increasingly disrespectful and it became very obvious that they were incredibly hostile towards the Pakistani team.
Anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim slogans
The Indian crowd took every opportunity to show their dislike, not just for the team, but for Pakistan as a country. Throughout the match, they chose to chant demeaning slogans towards their neighboring country.
The slogans were not just limited to Pakistan but were also targeted towards Muslims as a whole.
The silence of the crowd
While Pakistan did not win against India in the World Cup match, they did manage to score a few boundaries and Babar Azam also scored a half century. While the crowd was loud during their taunts against the team, when Pakistan was playing well, the crowd was completely silent. There was an eerie silence when it came to celebrating our feats. And that did not go unnoticed.
Matthew Hayden also pointed our during his commentary that the crowd was completely silent during the highs of the Pakistani team.
It’s fair to say that the Pakistan vs India World Cup match left a bitter taste in our mouths, beyond just our loss. Here’s to hoping that Indians will show better sportsman spirit in the future matches.