There are credible intelligence reports that Pakistani team visiting India for the World Cup 2011 cricket matches will be the target of terrorists. Nobody has made any specific threat but veiled threats were announced by Shiv Sena against Pakistan squad reaching the final to be held in Mumbai. This organization is a known terrorist group of India targeting Pakistan’s interests and Pakistani team will be exposed to the risk of terrorist attack by these terrorists in case they win Mohali semi-finals. As opposed to these terrorists, the public is excited about the clash and there has not been the slightest inkling of political trouble throughout the tournament. Mob violence generally, which never disappears entirely in India, appears to have taken a holiday during the World Cup, except for the occasional lathi charge by police on unsuspecting fans wanting tickets for various matches involving the home side.
Having credible information on a possible terrorist attack, Indian government has made elaborate security arrangements for the visiting team. It was about two years ago that some terrorists, having a clear agenda of moving World Cup venue from Pakistan attacked the Sri Lankan team bus taking the players to the third day of a Test match in Lahore. Seven policemen were killed, four cricketers were injured. The objective was achieved as no international cricket has been played in Pakistan since and the World Cup matches that they were supposed to be hosting were removed. Cricket was suddenly under the eye of the madmen. The nervousness surrounding Mohali match is perhaps natural: what could be a more obvious target for extremists?
Pakistani players have put up a brave face and have rejected Shiv Sena threats. Pakistani coach said last month they were not bothered by these threats. If nothing else, these threats are enough to put the players under pressure. According to a report which appeared in The Independent, the players themselves are deeply aware of the significance of the occasion, not least because the political frisson had made encounters rare once more. There have been only two in the past 17 months, both on neutral territory in multi-team tournaments; whereas there had been 31 one-day matches between them from 2004 to 2008. They were becoming two-a-penny affairs, which at least had the by-product of dissipating passions.
India are the favorites, says the report, but the fact that they have won all four previous World Cup matches between them, including a quarter-final in Bangalore in 1996, means nothing. Pakistan, a motley travelling band who have spent two years crossing the cricket world in search of a game, are peaking at the right time. To say that they are not universally popular might be an understatement considering the nefarious activities in which they have too often been involved, but there remains something constantly alluring about them. All that anybody can ask now is for the cricket to be at the centre of the stage.