The former opener’s observations came hours ahead of the Australia-New Zealand final in the T20 World Cup 2021. He contrasted the cricketing cultures of the Trans-Tasman with the sub-continent neighbors, saying that while Aussies and Kiwis are equally passionate about winning, their rivalry isn’t as ‘fierce’ to Indians and Pakistanis.
Writing in his column for The Times of India, Gautam Gambhir said:
“It is difficult to notice the cricketing rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. Like India and Pakistan, they are neighbours too. Like Indians and Pakistanis, Aussies and Kiwis hate losing to each other… By no means is the rivalry as fierce as the one between India and Pakistan. Have you wondered why? Are they not cynical enough to create lop-sided advertising campaigns to sell their products riding on what is essentially a cricket match? Or is it economics of the major stakeholders?”
Gautam Gambhir explained that the political history between India and Pakistan has meant that their sporting rivalry “keeps many other verticals warm”. The World Cup winner suggested that stakeholders from both sides of the border don’t want to pacify the jingoism because it generates revenue.
Gautam Gambhir added:
“History of India and Pakistan seems to be at the base of the sporting rivalry. Since 1947 we have fought four times and have had numerous skirmishes on the border. This has seeped into sports too, cricket being the frontrunner. I sometimes feel that India-Pakistan rivalry has become an industry in itself, which keeps many other verticals warm. No one seems to be in a hurry to reduce the jingoism volume on this one as it generates revenue.”
India and Pakistan met each other in the Super-12 stage of the T20 World Cup 2021. Babar Azam’s team defeated Virat Kohli’s men by 10 wickets, spiraling off a spree of online trolling, racist targeting and abuse towards some Indian players.
This was in line with how Pakistani cricketers have been treated by the public in the past after their cricketing defeats to the Indians.
“It is not only Virat Kohli but most of India wears their heart on their sleeve” – Gautam Gambhir
Further talking about the ‘industry’, Gautam Gambhir said the chasmic difference in the population of India and Pakistan to Australia and New Zealand propels the rivalry to uncomparable levels.
Gautam Gambhir said:
“The combined population of Australia and New Zealand is around three crores while here we are catering to 22 crore in Pakistan and approximately 140 crore at home. The database is chalk and cheese. Even if 10 percent of population of India and Pakistan are engaged, we are talking to five times more the combined number of Australia and New Zealand.”
Gautam Gambhir concluded by saying that the Indians and Pakistanis, like Virat Kohli, wear their heart on their sleeve. He said marketing companies exploit this tendency to be “poor losers” with their promotional campaigns, pushing the strife further. The cricketer-turned-politician said:
“Then there is a small matter of emotions from Indians and Pakistanis. I am not suggesting that Aussie and Kiwis are heartless but we can’t say, “bad luck” or “well played” and share a post-match drink. It is not only Virat Kohli but most of India wears their heart on their sleeve. Let’s accept it that we are poor losers and that is what that marketing guy exploits when he sucks us into high-pitched, biased promotional campaigns.”
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The Australia-New Zealand final will commence at 7:30 IST in Dubai.