PING-pong diplomacy once played a role in bringing China and the United States closer together after years of stand-off distrust, so why not cricket diplomacy to end, or at least assuage, the hostility between India and Pakistan that has made their shared continent one of the most dangerous places in the world? Both countries are consumed with suspicion about the motives and intentions of the other and both are nuclear powers.
Understandably, therefore, there were serious misgivings over whether the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup of cricket between India and Pakistan at Mohali near the Indian-Pakistan border on Wednesday could take place without serious incidents among the spectators and more widely among the millions watching the game on television. In the event, India won convincingly by 29 runs while Pakistan had their chances but were unable to take them.
In the run-up to the game there were reports of the military-like preparations being taken by India to ensure that any trouble either from the home crowd or the very large number of Pakistan supporters was immediately contained. The presence of the respective prime ministers, Monmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani, and their handshake caught by the TV cameras, probably ensured that the military preparations remained largely unused. Can this goodwill be sustained and built on in the future? A peaceful aftermath of the game will give an indication.