Cricket: 5 special occasions when national holidays were declared in Indian subcontinent
England had sprinkled the seed of cricket in South East Asia in the 19th century. The game has become a religion in the Indian subcontinent when one country divided into three.
In 1947 when the northwestern part of India parted way from India to become a separate nation the implication over entire subcontinent was unbearable. India and Pakistan were indulged in three deadly war that led to an on-field eternal rivalry between two neighbours. Politics and diplomacy were lurking around the corner of a cricket field since 1952, the year when India and Pakistan played their first cricket match. Since then every India-Pakistan match was not only a mere cricket match it becomes a medium to show the supremacy over one another. The India-Pakistan series or any match draws huge attention from across the world. It holds citizen of two nations stands still. People stop their work to watch the match.
India and Pakistan relation never normalise. Tension is the only essence that surrounds a cricket match when India and Pakistan face each other. So, both countries declared a national holiday on many occasions when their teams defeated another.
Bangladesh, a late bloomer in cricket, also joined the two big boys of Asian cricket in 1999. Bangladesh government often declare national holidays when its national team occasionally notches up victories over a mighty team.
Here are 5 iconic moments when governments declared national holidays after their national teams won matches on special occasions.
1) 1978 Pakistan’s Lahore Test victory of India
In 1978, India was touring Pakistan for a three-match Test series. The first Test in Faisalabad was drawn. But, in the second Test at Lahore Mushtaq Mohammad led Pakistan defeated Bishan Singh Bedi led India by 8 wickets. Pakistan had been going through trouble time. Pakistan’s Chief Martial Law Administrator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who abolished Prime Minister’s post to overthrow Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared a national holiday. He wanted to play the anti-India card among the Pakistan citizen. Pakistan was defeated by India in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. The wound was still in Pakistan’s mind, so any victory was sweet against India. Pakistan citizen did everything to mark the incident in their life.
2) India’s 1983 World Cup victory
Kapil Dev led India’s unlikely victory over Clive Lloyd led mighty West Indies that instilled confidence among the demoralised youth. Kapil led India’s victory took the world cricket by surprise. Former cricketer Farokh Engineer once told the 1983 World Cup victory is “pinnacles of- India’s achievement”. India’s then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, who was an avid follower of the game, declared a national holiday. The World Cup victory was the biggest thing to happen in India after independence. An agriculture-based economy, youths had nothing to do. But, they were an avid follower of the game. Some have listened the game in Radio while others marched on to the movie hall, where the game was being broadcasted live. The victory kept a long-lasting effect on India’s development.
3)Bangladesh’s 1999 World Cup victory Pakistan
The 1999 World Cup was Bangladesh’s first-ever appearance in cricket’s the biggest multilateral tournament. It was also the era of match-fixing. Pakistan’s shocking defeat in the hand of Bangladesh raised eyebrows. In the Northampton ODI, Bangladesh scored 223. It was not competitive for a Pakistan side which was filled with many match winners. But, the winner of 1992 World Cup meekly caved in scoring just 161. Bangladesh fans across the world had gone wild. A World Cup victory over a mighty team like Pakistan was even sweeter for a non-cricketing reason. Pakistan tormented Bangladesh for several years before the riverine nation got their independence on March 26, 1971. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also an avid cricket follower declared a half-day national holiday to acknowledge the nation’s wild celebration over the first victory in the World Cup and Pakistan.
4) 2004 World Cup Bangladesh defeated India
In December of 2004 when Sourav Ganguly led India were touring Bangladesh. Nobody had expected that an unorganised Bangladesh team would defeat India. It was the second ODI of the series. A day-night encounter in the Bangabandhu Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh batting first scored 229. India under the light in front of a vociferous crowd started to struggle from the beginning as opener Virender Sehwag had gone in the third ball of the first over without opening his account. An ominous signal for India. Though the Indian team had players like Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Mongia and Mohammad Kaif who could win the match. But, Bangladesh bowlers produced disciplined spells to keep India’s flow of run in check. Under pressure, India toppled in 214 a short of 15 runs.
Bangladesh, whose victory in international cricket used to come occasionally, succeeded to give their passionate cricket fans a moment to celebrate. The entire country did not sleep throughout the night. To add more flavour to the celebration then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who was known as anti-Indian state leader declared a two-day national holiday.
5) 2011 World semi-final India v Pakistan
Both India and Pakistan declared a national holiday on March 30, 2011, as two eternal rivals India and Pakistan confronted each other in the semifinal at Mohali. Thousands of screens were installed in public spaces. The match has historical significance. The cricket diplomacy set a new high in the history of the two countries. The match was in Punjab, which shared an international border with Pakistan. Both countries halted their work. All road met in Punjab Cricket Association Stadium. Both countries were positive about the match. Even state leaders could not avoid the match. Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the match with him.
The relation between India and Pakistan was in a conundrum after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. The bilateral relation had hit a historic low. Meeting, sideline talk in international summit did not materialize. But, as the invitation got Gilani accepted it and came to watch the match along with Singh. Bollywood celebrities also watched the match.
But, as India won the match by 29 runs Gilani had to go back with sorrow like his predecessors while Singh had all fun. India made a remarkable celebration throughout the night that led India to national holiday unofficially. The match had attracted 135 million audiences which were 11.74 per cent batter than the final between India and Sri Lanka.
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