The India–Pakistan cricket rivalry is one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world. The tense relations between the two nations, resulting from bitter diplomatic relationships and conflict that originated during the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, the Indo-Pakistan wars, and the Kashmir conflict, laid the foundations for the emergence of an intense sporting rivalry between the two nations who had shared a common cricketing heritage.
Players from both teams routinely face intense pressure to win and are threatened by extreme reactions in defeat. Extreme fan reactions to defeats in key matches have been recorded, with a limited degree of violence and public disturbances. At the same time, India–Pakistan matches have also offered opportunities for cricket diplomacy as a means to improve relations between the two countries by allowing heads of state to exchange visits and cricket followers from either country to travel to the other to watch the matches.
However, this line of diplomacy was crossed when a cricket Wold Cup 2019 advertisement by a Pakistani channel featuring a spoof using IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’ lookalike as a prop had not gone down well with the people of India, many of whom have termed the “mocking” act “cheap” and “shameful”.
The advertisement latches on to the conversation the IAF pilot had with the Pakistani side in captivity after his MiG-21 Bison was downed during an aerial dogfight on February 27 after the Balakot airstrike. In the advertisement, Varthaman lookalike character, sporting his trademark gunslinger mustache style, can be seen repeating the ‘I’m sorry, I am not supposed to tell you this’ in response to questions asked about the match, just like to the questions asked to him during his captivity. The character, wearing a blue jersey, is also holding a white teacup.
THE NATION REACTS:
As expected, this TVC faced massive criticism from the nation on social media.
“Shameful for Pakistan to mock our hero #Abhinandan ahead of #INDvsPAK World Cup cricket game. We need to retaliate!,” tweeted Harsh Goenka, chairman – RPG Enterprises.
Another user, @Pavanmahaveer1, wrote, “At least Keep that coffee cup safe, as you guys cannot handle World Cup. #abhinandan.”
“#Abhinandan Pakistan have not deserved to mock Abhinandan. Pak struggling to play wc. India has an indomitable player,” tweeted, @OmPraka09914564.
“Pakistan Admits the only Cup they can win is this ‘Tea Cup’ #Abhinandan #MoukaMouka,” tweeted another user @hellopravi.
In response to Pakistan’s ad spoof and under public pressure, Ogilvy came forward with a campaign “Baap baap hota hai”. The match was scheduled on Sunday (June 16), which also happened to be International Father’s Day, lending additional meaning to the whole ‘baap’ mud-slinging, something the fifth and latest spot in the series quite clearly draws on.
The 40- seconder TVC seems to feature the Pakistani fan’s grown-up son who is wished by a Bangladeshi fan for the upcoming Indo-Pak game. As the Pakistani fan refers to his “father’s” words of how one must keep trying and should never give up, the Indian fan pops up with his quintessential one-liner – ‘Maine aisa kab kaha’ (when did I ever say that). This suggests that India is the Pakistani fan’s indisputable ‘Baap’. The ‘Baap baap hota hai’ jeering between Indian and Pakistani cricket fans was last observed in all its glory during the 2017 Champions Trophy, and even became a hashtag on Twitter, #Baapbaaphotahai.
MEN IN BLUE RETALIATES:
On June 16th, the 22nd match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between India and Pakistan took place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester. Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl against India and led India’s first-innings tally of 336 for 5 against Pakistan. There were half-centuries from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, the latter not just driving India after Rohit’s dismissal on 140 but also substituting for Hardik Pandya’s rare off day when promoted up the order. This was not only Rohit Sharma’s second hundred but also the fastest fifty in all ODIs, it came off just 34 balls in the 2019 World Cup. Team India defeated Pakistan by 89 runs via DLS method.
Summing up, it is now crystal clear to the world that India, whether on-field or on screen, is undoubtedly way ahead when it comes to retaliation against Pakistan. While India is thriving, Pakistan has steadily but surely been reduced to the dungeons of irrelevance. However, the battle still continues both on and off the field.