SRINAGAR: The monsoons of 2022 have wreaked havoc on Pakistan as nearly 1500 people are reported dead in the floods and nearly half of the country is underwater. Termed recent history’s biggest floods ever – a super flood, the initial losses to the resources deficit are pegged at upward of US $ 4 billion.
This situation is going to impact the viewership of the India-Pakistan Asia Cup match that is scheduled tonight. Though cricket is seen as the main sports religion of the subcontinent, it is the clash on the pitches between India and Pakistan that is seen as the big game and is attracting most advertisers.
The six-nation Asia Cup started last night in UAE with Afghanistan beating Sri Lanka in half the time and making it big this season. The second match, scheduled tonight, is between India and Pakistan which is part of the group with Hong Kong as the third member.
However, the match will see less viewership as most of Pakistan is confronting the worst deluge ever. The floods have displaced more than 3.3 crore people, so far. Reports appearing in the media in India and Pakistan suggest that nearly three lakh homes have been washed away along with 700 thousand livestock. The water levels are expected to rise as the weather condition continues to be unstable. It is already being termed as ‘suer-flood’.
Historically, Pakistan faces flood-like situations between June and August. This year, however, early onset monsoons triggered a crisis. Pakistani media suggested they average 141 mm rainfall in three months which usually sees three cycles of monsoon. In 2021, it was only 15 mm. This year, it has already crossed 355 mm in eight spells and more is coming. Even Gilgit Baltistan, the region of erstwhile Kashmir state, which usually would receive a meagre 12.4 mm of rain in a year has got more than 40 mm so far. The country witnessed a major flood in 2010 but 2022 is being seen as much bigger than that. Bridges that had been laid almost 5 meters above the 2010 water levels have been also washed away in 2022.
Extreme weather conditions are being seen as the outcome of climatic change that has changed situations across the globe. Even Europe is undergoing the worst drought in the last half a millennium. Parts of China and the USA are also witnessing draught-like conditions.
The situation back home will impact the players on the pitch too. Reports appearing in the media suggest that the Pakistan team would be sporting black armbands in their opening match of the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 against India to show solidarity and support for the flood affected in their country.
With Rohit Sharma as the captain, the Indian team comprises KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant(w), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, and Ravi Bishnoi. Paksitani team will be led by Babar Azam and the team comprises Mohammad Rizwan(w), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, and Haider Ali.
In comparison to the last time, Asia’s top cricket rivals clashed with each other, the teams will miss many players on either side. Pakistan has shed some ageing batters. Apart from Afridi not being there, Imad Wasim is missing, and Hasan Ali is back at the last minute only because Mohammad Wasim got injured. In Team India, Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, are also missing, this time.
The match is being seen as important in wake of the fact that Pakistan defeated India by 10 wickets in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE in 2021, a historic first in which India lost to Pakistan in a cricket World Cup of any sort. India and Pakistan have had nine T20 matches so far and seven of them were won by India. In the history of the Asia Cup, they faced each other 14 times and eight times India defeated Pakistan.
“India-Pakistan fixtures have always drawn big investments,” The Times of India reported from Dubai. “In the past decade, the rivalry has become more intense, because the two teams meet only in multinational tournaments these days. That’s the reason the organisers have ensured they will meet at least twice in the tournament here – thrice if they both qualify for the final on September 11.” This is being done to improve the “game’s financial environment”.
That very objective, however, will be in question as Pakistan is fighting the super-flood. It has already started appealing to the world for help and some countries have started making their commitments public.
Meanwhile, the educational institutions within Jammu and Kashmir and outside have started issuing advisories about how not to misbehave while watching the game. NIT Srinagar, reports appearing in the media said has issued a notice asking its students in the hotels not to watch the game in groups.
“Students are aware that a cricket series involving various nations is going on in the Dubai International Stadium. Students are hereby directed to take sports as a game and do not create any kind of indiscipline in the institute/hostel,” the NIT notice reads. “If there is a group of students watching the match in a particular room, then the students to whom that particular room is allotted will be debarred from the institute hostel accommodation and a fine of at least Rs 5,000 will be imposed on all the students involved.” Besides, the students have been asked to avoid posting any material related to the match on social media platforms.