With the Wimbledon Tennis tournament two days away, the general craziness over football (next year's World Cup, the ongoing Federation Cup, Ronaldo's trade from ManU to Real Madrid, Drogba's suspension, etc.), the World 20/20 Cricket tournament currently concluding in England does not perhaps hold the sports enthusiasts' attention very much. The cricket aficionados even dismiss the 20-overs only format of cricket as an aberration of that so-called gentleman's game, Test Cricket with its lengthy format moving at a stately pace, tea-breaks and all.
In any case 20/20 cricket is thriving and here to stay. Its international championship is played every two years. India won the inaugural championship in 2007. The 2009 finals takes place in London on Sunday 21st June (14:00 GMT, Star Cricket). The finalists - Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pakistan upset the favourites, South Africa, in the first semi-final. Sri Lanka, and a young man named Dilshan, cooked West Indies' goose in last evening's second semis. As a south Asian, even though I am more a fan of tennis and football, it is a matter of sheer pride that two South Asian countries will be battling it out for the honours on Sunday. South Asia, usually in the news for its poverty and other sundry malaise, reigns supreme at least in that stately game of Cricket. Watching these young men play cricket (well not all of them are that young; Sri Lanka's hero, Sanath Jayasuria, will be 40 in less than 2 weeks)I think of how the colonized have thrashed the colonials at their own game, how a sport has given young men undreamed-of opportunities, and wish we could solve all our problems through a cricket match, or a match in any other sports for that matter.
Sri Lanka is in the headlines these days not because of Jayasuria and company, but because of the recent crushing of the LTTE rebels by the Sri Lankan Army and the consequent hullabaloo raised by righteous hypocritical "human rights" groups. Pakistan has been in the news for a long time: Benazir, Talibans, Musharraf, US's "fight against terrorism" and all of that.
But come Sunday afternoon, on a green oval at Lord's cricket ground in London, the cricket teams of these two countries will face each other sans guns, sans religious fanaticism, sans hatred. Just a a sense of pure competition, the will to win, an opportunity to give one's best. Whoever wins, I personally am a Sri Lanka fan, the trophy will be held high with pride and the world of cricket will marvel at the heroics of these young men - from South Asia!