As a sports fan, I would have taken Punjab over Kashmir in 1947

This is strictly tongue-in-cheek. I have nothing against Kashmir or Kashmiris. Please don’t send me death threats.

One of the few bright spots for Pakistan on their recent tour of England was the test win at the Oval. The Pakistan squad for this match consisted solely of players from the Punjab province – a first in the world of cricket. But thanks to the match-fixing controversy, this remarkable achievement got lost in the din.

While, many state or provincial sides have beaten international teams in first class games, I can’t remember an international cricket team comprising solely of players from a single province. And to top that, the team ended up with a creditable win. To celebrate this remarkable achievement of a region with a glorious sporting pedigree, I, as an Indian and a sports nut, will finally voice my long held desire, “I wish our founding fathers had let go of Kashmir and held onto the whole of Punjab.”

Forget the religious and political implications. Forget the fact that Nehru would have had to consider alternate options for his summer vacations. Jinnah would have jumped at this and left us an amazing talent pool of great cricketers and outstanding hockey players.

Pakistan’s never ending supply of fast men – Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib, all come from Punjab – would have combined with the batsmen of Mumbai to make our national team an all conquering juggernaut, long before India finally ascended to the top thanks to the decline of Australia and West Indies.

The Indian part of Punjab provides almost half the national hockey side on a regular basis. Adding the Pakistani half would have extended India’s domination of world hockey into the 1980’s and beyond. The likes of Shahbaz Ahmad (nicknamed Maradona of Hockey), Shahnaz Sheikh and Samiullah are all Punjabi’s from across the border.

We would have missed out on Dal Lake, the Shalimar Gardens and Gulmarg but relished the prospect of Imran and Kapil opening the bowling and Wasim Akram coming in first change. The beauty of Asian hockey would have been truly mesmerizing with Shahbaz Ahmad on the left and Mukesh Kumar on the right terrorizing the Europeans into submission.

Javed Miandad would have still played for Pakistan. But we wouldn’t have suffered through the aftermath of the last ball six at Sharjah. Because – with Punjab’s fast bowling riches, Chetan Sharma wouldn’t have got the chance to offer Miandad a full toss.


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