A hostile pitch

Two recent incidents have reinforced the most uncomfortable fear you can feel in any city: that it can drop all pretence of politeness and tell you that you are an unwanted guest. Temperatures didn't need to drop a few degrees in January to show that Mumbai could turn devoid of all warmth. In sporting terms, the city has proven itself unfit to host multinational events. One can only hope its self-absorbed residents don't emerge from their bubble anytime soon and harbour hopes of bringing home a large tournament that features more than one country — their own.

Leading to Churchgate, D Road boasts of the Wankhede Stadium and the Mumbai Hockey Association's astroturf, two venues that enjoy rare privilege in a city that has abysmal sporting infrastructure for a metropolis with the population and economic clout of its size. The hockey venue was the first scene of disgrace, when a handful of Shiv Sainiks entered the premises and chased away four Pakistani international hockey players, who were forced to jump out of a window and skulk away through the back door to safety. Meanwhile, the protesters tried to figure out if a gentleman in the dressing room, whom they had begun to threaten, was a Pakistani or, as it turned out, the Indian national goalkeeper.

Spare one moment to think, what if this had been Sardar Singh, Sandeep Singh, S.V. Sunil and Sreejesh being forced out of Karachi?

A few days later, this same thuggish group ensured that the Pakistan women's cricket team, taking with it the Australian, New Zealand and South African teams, would end up playing its world cup group games at Cuttack — a venue change just 10 days before the world cup kicks off. No matter if Pakistan makes the knockouts or the final, for schedules can always be shuffled around and the International Cricket Council (ICC) ordered into submission, because India is doing the world a favour by hosting the biggest event on the women's calendar.

... contd.

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