India's Sticky Wicket

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NEW DELHI: India won’t be stopped from confronting Pakistan -- on the cricket field. Hindu nationalist extremists on Thursday dug up the New Delhi pitch (the cricket playing field) hoping to sabotage the first match in 13 years between the rival nuclear powers. But the government is determined to play on. “This is a nation of cricketers, and they desperately want to see Pakistan come here and play,” says TIME New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk. “And see India trounce them.”

It will take two weeks to repair the damage caused by activists of the Shiv Sena party who want to stop any rapprochement with Pakistan. “But the government will make sure the game goes ahead,” says McGirk, “because Prime Minister Vajpayee has given in too many times to extremists.” Of course, the Shiv Sena action could be seen as a bid to sway the match -- a damaged pitch would more likely favor India’s spin bowlers than it would Pakistan’s pace men.