Shashi Tharoor, a former UN Under-Secretary-General and man of letters, is a passionate outsider, whose comprehensive, entertaining and hard-hitting analysis of sixty years of cricketing history displays a Nehruvian commitment to secular values, which rejects sectarianism in sport in either country. Shaharyar Khan, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, is very much the insider, who writes compellingly of his pivotal role as team manager and then chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Control Board at a time when cricket was in the forefront of détente between the two countries. By the time the book was published Shashi Tharoor had won the election from the Thiruvanathapuram Constituency and had become a member of Parliament and Minister of State for External Affairs.
In their essays, the two authors trace the growing popularisation of cricket from the days of the Bombay Pentangular to the Indian Premier League. They show how politics and cricket became intertwined and assess the impact it has had on the game. But above all the book is a celebration of the talent of the many great cricketers who have captivated audiences on both sides of the border. If politics and terrorism can at times stop play, the authors believe that cricket is also a force for peace and they look forward to more normal times and more healthy competition.
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1. Shadows Across the Playing Field: 60 Years of India-Pakistan Cricket by Shashi Tharoor and Shaharyar Khan
Sport used to ease conflict, restore trust and open dialogue between fractious neighbours. Friendship between nations, though, has been rare and discord common. Cricket has been an instrument of conciliation but it is an equally potent weapon of separation, teaching the other combatant a lesson. We are living through one such period, in which the Mumbai attacks have persuaded India to break off bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan and exclude its players from the Indian Premier League.
2. The Five-Day War
A small-time cricketer, but a passionate observer, I have watched Indo-Pak cricket since 1947. I have seen many India-Pakistan matches, from the one in Amritsar under Imran, to the 1996 World Cup Bangalore ODI, and the amazing Chennai Test match. Both authors have relied on other books for their material, with a few observations and opinions of their own.
3. A diametrically different reading of history: A book review
Cricket matches between India and Pakistan have been played since the early 1950s and have always had an edge to them, rivaling even international cricket’s oldest series between England and Australia. The reason for heightened tensions when the two nations meet is of course wrapped up in history, politics and religion.