New Delhi: It's just been a little more than three months and yet again cricket in the sub-continent has been pushed to the backfoot. For the second time in this short span, the game has fallen prey to terror tactics.
While the 26/11 Mumbai attacks had thrown the world into a state of frenzy and compelled the England team to truncate the ODI series, it did not harm the touring cricketers. But Tuesday's attack in Lahore was a deliberate one and targeted the visiting Sri Lankan team directly, leaving five players and a few officials injured.
Triggering anger and anguish, such incidents have also put a question mark on the future of the game in the land where it is a passion, a religion and a celebration.
In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, India cancelled its tour to Pakistan. But what if India had gone ahead? One shudders to even think of it now. And this incident should not be glorified as a vindication of India's decision.
But that does not play down the enormity of the incident. It has happened for the first time and has shaken cricket out of its comfort zone. No one's safe, so what if you are a cricketer? So what if you are the most loved bunch of people in the Indian sub-continent? So what if all you want is to bring some smiles on the faces of the people who are struggling for their existence in a strife-torn nation and living under the clouds of uncertainties?
Sri Lanka showed solidarity and agreed to send its team to the troubled nation, which was devoid of cricket for more than 10 months. A goodwill gesture cost them heavily. Luckily, most members of the Sri Lankan team escaped unhurt and the injured ones are now out of danger. But, it could have been worse!
Though we cannot compare the two incidents - 26/11 and Lahore attacks - they have left the entire cricket world skeptical and that can have major and multi-dimensional implications.
We all know cricket is financially big in the sub-continent. With the IPL around the corner, it remains to be seen how many foreign players fulfill their commitment. That will also make a huge statement for India as a safe venue, which is important for the hosting rights of 2011 World Cup lying jointly with India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. With Pakistan already striped off the Champions Trophy and a few bilateral series, chances look bleak that it will remain in contention as a co-host after this horrific incident.
But at the same time, we all feel sorry for Pakistan cricket. A nation that produced legends, helped the game evolve, is at the crossroads now. In the land of reverse swing, years of internal conflicts and instability had already left the game in doldrums, and now such dastardly acts of terror have further pushed the game many years back.
It's high time the people concerned took strong steps to put an end to the terror menace which like some mythical monster is crushing everything that's coming in its way and gaining strength with each life lost.