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Kohli or Azam?

That would have added fuel to the fire the Pakistan Cricket Board breathed but India, not to be stared down, steadfastly refused to douse the flames by dignifying the demand with a response, affirmative or negative. It has long been cross since Pakistan gets up to a lot of monkey business, incurring its wrath.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

It doesn’t really take an Aristotelian intellect to deduce why the Twenty20 World Cup, which India is to host in October-November this year, is already such a hit, hinting at a blockbuster once it gets going.

While the format and the Indian Premier League have fed on one another, Indians, high on the national team’s sundry successes in the recent past, even if in the traditional, cerebrally demanding format, are euphoric in unison anticipating another global triumph.

The 50-over World Cup victory in Mumbai in 2011, by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his peers, is in the scrapbook now and the young enthusiast could do with something to match it. But, as Life teaches Bertie Wooster even in Wodehousian idylls, there is always a cloud around a silver lining.

Snags impede progress precisely when you count on the going being smooth on a road, to pinch a simile from an Indian politician, good enough to be compared to an actress’ cheeks.

Pakistan have for some time been requesting official assurances that they would be given their visas by India for the high decibel tournament that they too quite obviously hope to win. Every time they fidgeted or fulminated, India looked disdainfully away, preserving the expressionless calm of a pin-cushion.

That would have added fuel to the fire the Pakistan Cricket Board breathed but India, not to be stared down, steadfastly refused to douse the flames by dignifying the demand with a response, affirmative or negative. It has long been cross since Pakistan gets up to a lot of monkey business, incurring its wrath.

The Indian cricketers go up against Pakistan only in international competitions, eschewing bilateral exchanges. Tours are a memory and allied matters part of history. And since India bankrolls the game it dominates across the formats, a silence of the stony kind has been the golden policy that underpins the world’s reaction. But word is the PCB has wrung ~ or coaxed ~ a promise from the International Cricket Council that India will let the green shirted boys in for the T20 World Cup all right.

No top-of-the-page declarations but cautious whispers, with possibly a don’t-rock-the-boat sub-text laced into the clandestine message. Pakistan should find India’s doors thrown open simply because trying to stop them as the host could entail the paying of a heavy price by India, including the shifting of the tournament, which the indigenous fan too will deem a load he could do without.

All that he probably wants to find out is who is better: Virat Kohli or Babar Azam? But then, sport is a magnet for lots other than the innocent entertainment-seeker. And they can, and do, bung a spanner into its works. Which is why India, regrettably, stop well short of dreaming of yet another authentic Test series triumph over Pakistan at a time when Kohli and his mates rule the roost. Pakistan will not mind coming here for that too.