India beat Pakistan by eight and then nine wickets this week in the Asia Cup. These two games ended a string of matches between the two old enemies that have been rather lopsided. There were the two Champions Trophy matches in 2017: one won by India by a bucket of runs and one won by Pakistan by a bucket of runs. Before that was their meeting in the 2015 World Cup which India won handily.
This mini-string of matches have led many to state that the India vs Pakistan rivalry — once the Yankees vs Red Sox of the cricketing world — is no longer living up to the hype.
Which is, of course, a dumb thing to say. Mostly because it’s the smallest of small sample sizes. The two countries have played each other in 131 ODIs, so the last five matches represent less than 4% of their total ODIs played. Further, they’ve also gone head-to-head in 59 Tests and eight T20s, so those five matches account for just 2.5% of all their matches played when you bring those two formats into the occasion. Not living up to the hype? C’mon. It’s five matches.
Also, though, India vs Pakistan doesn’t need to be a close match for it to live up to the hype. It’s become way more of an event than just a sporting contest. Sure, maybe the neutrals are a little grumpy, but Indian fans are still super happy, and Pakistani fans are surely still bummed. Lopsided string of matches or not, the winners are always fine with the result, boohoo that the neutrals didn’t get their classic.
Which brings me to my main point about this: what in sports ever lives up to the hype? How many snooze-fest World Cup finals have we all sat through? No matter the sport? We surely all remember the lengthy and intense buildup to the 2015 Cricket World Cup final, only to watch New Zealand’s danger man, Brendan McCullum, get bowled by Mitchell Starc with the fifth ball of the first over, essentially sucking all the life out of an eight hour match in the first minute. That about sums up most finals, most Super Bowls, most sports, and, yeah, you knew where this was going: most things in life.
Life rarely lives up to the hype. No matter what the event or the outcome. The joy is in the anticipation, the excitement. There’s little in life where the joy after an event exceeds that that existed before the event. Think of all those Christmas mornings. Those graduations. Those weddings. I don’t have kids, but I’m gonna bet that childbirth is probably the one thing in our lives that actually lives up to, or even exceeds, the hype that existed beforehand.
Public Enemy famously rapped: don’t believe the hype. But yeah fuck that. Believe the hype. Revel in the hype. Wrap yourself in the hype and wring out every last damn drop. Don’t fear the hype. Love the hype. Have faith in the hype. Because what comes next is probably going to suck, and so the hype might be the only joy you get during your long life on this dark little planet.
Anticipation is joy. Joy is anticipation. Don’t turn your back on it, it might be all you get.