Opium of South Asia

Cricket is more than just a sport for South Asia. It is a sym­bol of na­tional pride and fierce com­pe­ti­tion.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The re­cent rout­ing of Eng­land by Pak­istan in the Test Se­ries played in the UAE, has cre­ated new ex­cite­ment be­cause for most South Asians, cricket is not only a sport; it is a part of life. South Asian coun­tries, mainly Pak­istan, Sri Lanka and In­dia have been play­ing cricket both on the do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional level for a long time. Bangladesh as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try be­came a Test- play­ing na­tion much later. The unique sport had made its way into the sub­con­ti­nent when the Bri­tish fa­mil­iar­ized the lo­cals with its rules and reg­u­la­tions.

With all four South Asian na­tions as its ma­jor pro­po­nents, cricket has be­come a pop­u­lar sport in the re­gion with peo­ple en­joy­ing it in its orig­i­nal for­mat, which is Test cricket. The first limited overs One­Day In­ter­na­tional ( ODI) match was played in Melbourne in 1971, and the qua­dren­nial cricket World Cup be­gan in 1975. Many of the “pack­ag­ing” in­no­va­tions, such as col­ored cloth­ing, were as a re­sult of World Se­ries Cricket, set up out­side the crick­et­ing es­tab­lish­ment by Aus­tralian en­tre­pre­neur, Kerry Packer. One can still re­mem­ber the thrill of ODIS when cricket uni­forms were white and sta­di­ums echoed the ex­cite­ment from the crowd. The same thrill is felt in mod­ern day cricket with new rules and reg­u­la­tions mak­ing their way into the sport. Pow­er­play and the Um­pire Decision Re­view Sys­tem have grown in pop­u­lar­ity amongst play­ers. Such rules have brought evo­lu­tion in the game along with the Twenty20 for­mat, which has made cricket even more chal­leng­ing. Twenty20 is a cur­tailed form of one­day cricket com­pris­ing 20 overs per side and was first played in Eng­land in 2003.

It is ar­gued that fre­quent evo­lu­tion has hin­dered the very es-

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