#IndvsPak: How Virat Kohli (and media) can hype an already overhyped game

The usual tricks have been tried, is there anything new to be done?

 |  5-minute read |   16-06-2017
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Months, often years go by without India playing Pakistan. And then you have the Champions Trophy that pits the two against each other in the same group, intentionally, with the weather just about holding too.

Though not quite Pakistan, who end up losing by 124 runs. Since then though, Pakistan did not lose a game, and somewhat miraculously made its way to the finals.

India, equally miraculously, lost to Sri Lanka but more than turned up in its other two matches. So here we are, with two days off, and one to be fully on.

Either way, there’s only one certainty in this Champions Trophy, that it will be a one-sided match. It has been a bore-fest to beat them all, and when there was parity, as in the Pakistan-Sri Lanka match, it was largely due to the ineptness of the two sides.

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The tournament is trim, the weather further trimmed the matches, and in 18 days flat we’ll be done. Though not without a fresh sounding of the bugle for the India-Pakistan final. But it’s really quite unnecessary.

There is no India-Pakistan rivalry on the cricket field. Today, in all seriousness, there’s more India-Bangladesh rivalry. There’s context to matches with the Eastern neighbours, and photoshop and nasties. Enough off the field events (and some on-field too, no nobody has forgotten that Rohit Sharma no-ball yet) have spilled over on to the field.

India tours Bangladesh, and vice versa, they only recently played their first Test in India. When did Pakistan play their last Test in India? When did India last play Pakistan outside an ICC tournament?

For the record, India’s captain, Virat Kohli, who made his Test debut in 2011, is yet to play a Test against Pakistan. He’s already played two against Bangladesh. Since his ODI debut in 2008, Kohli has played against Pakistan in 11 ODIs. Of these eight have been in World Cups, Asia Cups or Champion Trophy – only three have been in an India-Pakistan ODI series which was from December 30, 2012 to January 6, 2013 in India.

Kohli is yet to play Pakistan in the UAE. Two centuries against them already, 183 and 107, with an unbeaten 81 from earlier in this tournament.

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If there’s ever been any build-up against Pakistan, or perceived threat, Virat Kohli is yet to let off. There is more of the usual platitudes, both before and after India-Pak matches.

If anything, the build-up is a little underwhelming. It’s not as if team India is playing to either the press or the galleries, who are both on an extended print run of hysterics.

So, what can Virat Kohli (and the press) do to hype up an already overhyped India-Pak match?

1. In reply to obscure questions such as, “Is this just another match for you?”, he can make obscure statements such as, “This is not just another match for us, this is a final and that too against Pakistan”.

This will then be translated into “Kohli wary of Pakistan” and “Kohli not taking Pakistan lightly” and “Kohli feels India vs Pakistan is different” and “Kohli feels final with Pak is added pressure”.

Yeah right, Kohli has to do very little, they’re going to have a party anyway, both before and after and, in all probability, during the match.

2. Kohli can refuse to take any questions on the match. This will send the press into a tailspin, and give them even more innuendo than any answer possibly can. In fact, he should approach the match as top secret, pretty much like any questions on his personal life, or to be more specific, any questions on Anushka Sharma. That will nail it.

Before long, there will be innuendo that, “Is Virat involved with Pakistan?” or “Is Virat hiding something” or some "khufiya"-undercover photographer will take a photograph of Virat allegedly gifting a box to Aamir, soon to follow: “Virat concerned with Aamir’s safety”.

3. Give Dinesh Karthik an extended net before Sunday’s match. This will directly lead to sources informing us that there is a rift between Dhoni and Kohli. This will be further substantiated by sources in the know that Dhoni was unhappy at captaining the side without actually being the captain, and how the Kedar Jadhav masterstroke against Bangladesh was Dhoni’s doing and even though Kohli admitted to it, it was a gross misuse of Dhoni’s powers.

Also someone will blow up the five penalty runs (courtesy Dhoni) and how it had caused a rift between the two – “Gloves are off” both punning and explaining the ramifications of the incident will follow.

4. Photographic evidence of Kohli spending far too much time with batting coach, Sanjay Bangar, pointing to fresh cracks in the Kohli-Kumble relationship. Further substantiated by Kumble and Kohli seated at different tables during meals, and refusing to acknowledge each other in public.

5. Kohli can shave his beard. Or for that matter, all the players can shave their beards. This more than anything else, will lead to bizarre conspiracy theories, and give everyone way more food for thought than many thousands of words ever will.

Chances are, none of this will happen. The real action will be in the middle. There will be very few mind games from the players, either before or after the match. Unless of course, Ashwin decides to start talking about that fresh delivery he had prepared for the Champions Trophy.

Which brings us to point number six:

6. Why did Kohli glare at Ashwin after the dropped catch? Will he be dropped for the final?

There’s always something to insinuate, and for that, you don’t have to hate the other team. Just a hint is enough.

Enough hints will be dropped in the days to come, often they’ll have very little to do with cricket.

As I write, there’s an alert on my phone: to do with the big #INDVPAK final.

Also read: Champions Trophy: Bangladesh thrashed, brace for the epic India-Pak showdown

Writer

Gaurav Sethi Gaurav Sethi @boredcricket

Bored Cricket Crazy Indians (BCCI!) - play with cricket #ThankYouSachin #ChePujara #Jatman began here.

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