The Australian cricket team conquered the last remaining frontier in international cricket by winning T20 world cup on Sunday 14 November 2021. Rated among the best cricketing nations throughout the history of the game, Australia had not won the championship in this new format of cricket in past. Ranked number 7 at the start of the tournament, winning the title brought great joy to the team and fans in Australia.

The tournament, postponed due to COVID-19 crisis in India and rescheduled to be held in oil rich gulf states of UAE and Oman, created enormous interest in the subcontinent as arch rivals India and Pakistan met in the group match on Sunday 24 October Packed stadium with many celebrities in attendance from both nations, Pakistan achieved a phenomenal victory, thrashing India by ten wickets.

Pakistan won the toss and put India into bat and restricted them to 7-151 with Pakistan’s fearsome fast bowler Shaheen Afridi taking three key wickets. The opening pair of Pakistan Babar Azam (68 not out off 52 balls) and Mohammad Rizwan (79 not out off 55 balls) dwarfed Indian batting performance with a great display of beautiful shots and an unbroken partnership to win the match with more than two overs to spare.

Geo-politics of South Asia meant that the two teams had not played against each other for quite sometime and again the Pakistan haters in India calling for India not to play against Pakistan in this world cup.

The defeat was unbearable for the Indian fans and saffron party BJP followers created havoc on social media. The only Muslim player in the team, fast bowler Mohammad Shami was targeted as being a traitor as his last over proved expensive.

Several senior cricketers including captain Virat Kohli defended Shami and applauded his great heroics for his nation in past. Kohli was emphatic in his statement “To me, attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing that a human being can do. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion over what they feel about a certain situation, but I personally have never ever even thought of discriminating (against) anyone over their religion. That’s a very sacred and personal thing to every human being. People take out their frustrations because they obviously have no understanding of what we do as individuals…..”

The strong stand of captain caused more furore among Hindutava forces. Kohli was targeted to the extent that he received online rape threats for his 9 months old baby daughter.   

No institution in today’s India is untouched by Hindutava influence and nepotism. Currently Board of Cricket Control of India has Jay Shah, son of India’s Home Minister Amit Shah as the Secretary whose competency is questioned by many.

Many people raised eye brows over India-Afghanistan match and wondered if the match was fixed in an attempt to give India a chance to reach semi-final. Cricket in the subcontinent has been marred by such controversies for the past couple decades where illegal betting market in India is understood to be worth $150 billion a year.

Pakistan team continued to do extremely well, winning all its matches to reach the semi final. It was the only team who remained undefeated till the semi-final stages.

In semi final against Australia, they again scored a highly competitive score of 176 for four wickets. Australia was in trouble early in their innings with captain Aaron Finch claimed by Shaheen Afridi in the first over.

For much of the inning, Australia was short of target till Mathew Wade and Marcus Stoinis steadied the ship and Wade rose to the occasion by hitting three sixes in the 19th over, thus securing the spot in the final for Australia.

The Pakistani players fell on their knees, shattered as Australia robbed them of a place in final in closing stages. Imran Khan, ex0cricket captain and current Prime Minister of Pakistan tweeted “To Babar Azam & the team: I know exactly how all of you are feeling right now bec[ause] I have faced similar disappointments on the cricket field,” remembering the memories of the 1987 World Cup semi final when Australia had beaten Pakistan in a closely contested match in Lahore.

The renowned Australian batsman and current Pakistan team batting consultant, Matthew Hayden, has been impressed with the togetherness and the spirituality of the team. Hayden said that one of the biggest aspects of this Pakistan cricket team is the way they are all united and how all the players are focused on their ultimate goal.

While talking to Fox Cricket, Hayden revealed that the entire team has an unbelievable discipline and he has not seen any team in the world that spiritually bonds the way this Pakistan team does. He said that the way the whole team prays in unison is one of the most incredible experiences of his life.

“Every day there is this unbelievable discipline. You can be walking to the lift, and there will be prayer time and at the base of the lift, there will be the whole of the team praying in unison. It’s a phenomenal cultural experience for me personally,” Hayden stated.

“Inside the changing room I’ve never seen a more disciplined and more humble approach to winning,” he further added.

Pakistan team has won many hearts despite not being able to make it to the final.

Let us hope that South Asian teams will keep performing at their best and their fans will learn to understand sport and not indulge in despicable behaviour of hate and malice against each other.