Pakistan, India trade parodies before Cup clash

Both sides are scheduled to lock horns on June 16 in Manchester

Pakistan, India trade parodies before Cup clash PHOTO COURTESY: YouTube screengrab

A video parodying an Indian air force pilot who was briefly captured by Pakistan earlier this year has gone viral ahead of a highly-anticipated World Cup clash between the two cricket-mad nations.

The 33-second video shows an actor posing as handlebar-moustached Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down over Kashmir earlier this year and held briefly by Pakistan.

Jazz TV advt on #CWC19 takes the Indo-Pak air duel to new level. It uses the air duel over Nowshera and Wing Co Abhinandan Varthaman's issue as a prop. @IAF_MCC @thetribunechd @SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia

— Ajay Banerjee (@ajaynewsman) June 11, 2019

He was released in a "peace gesture" aimed at defusing tensions between the nuclear- neighbours.

Before his release the Pakistani military aired a video showing Varthaman in custody, sipping tea and politely refusing to answer questions.

His politeness — and praise of the ‘fantastic’ tea — saw him catapulted to hero status in India.

The latest video comes as mercurial Pakistan gear up to meet giants India at the World Cup in Manchester on Sunday.

The footage shows an actor with a moustache nearly as impressive as Varthaman's.

When asked: "What you are going to opt for after winning the toss? Who is in playing eleven?" he responds cordially with Varthaman's now-famous "I am not supposed to tell you that, sir".

At the end of the video, the pilot gets up to leave — but the interrogator quickly asks him to "leave the cup", a clear reference to the trophy.

The video, shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, ends with the hashtag #LetsBringTheCupHome.

It has provoked some ire in India, prompting a slightly more sinister video described as a ‘counter ad’ depicting an Indian pulling a gun on a Pakistani before shooting his motorcycle tyre and warning him not to cross Indian cricket fans.

Most received the pilot video with good humour, however.

"Let them keep the 'chai ka cup' only, we'll get the World Cup," tweeted Indian fan Mainak Mitra.

The latest videos follow a history of cheeky advertisements released in both India and Pakistan around big matches.

During the 2015 World Cup an Indian sports channel ran a famous "Moka Moka (Opportunity)" advertisement which mocked Pakistani fans for their team's inability to beat India at the World Cup.

In 2017, when Pakistan dramatically beat India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, another video showed Pakistanis handing tissues to Indian fans.

Some find the hype exasperating.

"It's only cricket for God sake," tweeted Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, who is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, after the most recent video.

Cringeworthy ads on both sides of the border 🤮 seriously guys, you don’t need to ‘hype up’ or market the match anymore specially with rubbish! it has ENOUGH attention already!It’s only cricket for God sake, and if you think it’s anymore than that then get a grip or get a life !!

— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 12, 2019

Pakistan are currently in eighth position at the World Cup in England, where the final will be played July 14. India are third.