Variety

Grace under pressure

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on April 01, 2011 Published on April 01, 2011

Dignified demeanour: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridigreeting Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj SIngh after India wonthe World Cup 2011 semi-final match at the PCA Stadium inMohali. — S. Subramanium

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India emerged victorious against Pakistan on Wednesday but Pakistan's skipper Shahid Afridi was the epitome of grace in defeat. He wished India well for the finals while apologising to his countrymen for the defeat.

It was this gesture that struck a chord with a friend who heads an automotive company. According to him, accepting a loss without making a fuss is the first step towards laying a solid base for victory in the future. “There are some very good takeaways from Afridi's leadership style in daily management, especially on those occasions when we have our backs to the wall,” he said.

Here was a man trying to put a B Team together. Some of his country's top cricketers had been banned in an ugly match fixing controversy and nobody gave Pakistan even a ghost of a chance in this World Cup. The fact that it qualified for the semis is a tribute to Afridi and his faith in the team. Better known for his mercurial temperament, he stood tall at Mohali after the defeat.

Quite unlike the charismatic Imran Khan, who was suave and classy, Afridi is more of your buddy on the shopfloor. He is the one who would happily double up for you at work if you needed to take a brief snooze. He was not unaware of the fact that this game meant so much to his country, as it did to India, but took the result in his stride.

Remarkable for a man whose unpredictable mood swings make news more often than he would have wished.

This tourney brought out a new side to Afridi in the face of adversity. And for all we know, it could be the beginning of a rebuilding phase for Pakistan cricket. And where does that leave India? Sure, we won but does it hurt the crowd to cheer the opposition when they smack boundaries? What happened to the sporting Indian of yesteryear who would welcome a good game of cricket and applaud boundary hits by a Miandad or Richards? Every effort by Pakistan, or for that matter by any of the other teams playing India, was generally greeted with stoic silence across grounds.

Why are most of us attracted to the likes of Tendulkar, Dhoni, Kumble or Dravid? These are the people who remind us that this is a gentleman's game by the end of the day.

Sure, there is nothing as heady as success but the true trait of a leader lies in being magnanimous when his team is at the receiving end. This is where Afridi emerged tops.

Published on April 01, 2011
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