Mellow and GreenJust watching Pakistan complete an impressively mature win over Australia in the World Twenty20, it struck me that I'm no longer routinely anti-Pakistani as I used to be as a kid. Back then, when it came to sports, I would vigorously root for a Pakistani loss. Such a venom sometimes got in the way of seeing the quality of the likes of greats Imran and Wasim Akram. Of course, Javed and his kind didn't help matters :-)
I remember being bitterly disappointed when England were bundled out in the finals to a rampaging Pakistan, who were so lucky to get to the finals. It seemed they had the kind of luck that India never ever seemed to get (and still don't!). Getting our noses rubbed in the scorching sands of the Sharjah desert meant that I didn't quite miss not having cable television those days!
Things have changed. I can watch Pakistan play sport and appreciate their good performances. It was often conjectured, especially in the immediate post-Kargil atmosphere, whether more India-Pak matches would in fact assuage tensions. I don't know about that, but I attribute my own mellowing down to a larger vein of downplaying the impact of such sporting outcomes on my own life. So occasionally the adrenalin pumps at a close match, but on the whole, a certain detachment has helped.
The first time I can remember actually appreciating a Pakistani sporting performance was in the 1994 Hockey World Cup, where the men in green, led by the legendary Shahbaz Ahmed took the crown. Chak De Pakistan, perhaps.