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A different challenge

January 31, 2013

IT is not a pleasant situation. The Pakistan women’s cricket team may not be one of the prime contenders for the World Cup tournament that gets under way in India tomorrow, but the circumstances have already made it the grittiest. Before taking on the usual challenge posed by other competitors the Pakistani cricketers must first deal with the very special treatment they have so far received in India. To begin on an inauspicious note, the venue of the Pakistan games had to be shifted from Mumbai to Cuttack following serious threats by hardliners. That was disappointing enough. Now it is learnt that the team has been literally kept in protective custody and is not allowed to leave the premises of the stadium where it is going to play. The adjoining club where the Pakistani cricketers are lodged may be a good enough substitute for a hotel, but it cannot quite reduce the psychological impact the limitations must be having on the players.

The situation does prepare the ground for conjuring up images of a Rocky-style finale — an underdog overcoming the greatest of odds to triumph over the more fancied and more privileged. While there is no bar on dreaming, realities dictate that the game must go on, whatever the constraints. Pakistan’s inability to host international cricket has put it on the back foot and many instances in the recent past show the choice is not Pakistan’s. Only last month, it had to shift its home series to India and play it on India’s terms, for want of an option. The compensation was some good displays by the men led by Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez. Sana Mir’s team is carrying itself with a lot of grace in trying conditions. This is victory enough.