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The Indian take: Sania Mirza…of course, what else did you expect from her. Yeh toh hona tha, after all she is Muslim before being Indian. She did refuse to play doubles with the Israeli Shahar Pe’er in 2006 and she was photographed sitting with her feet up towards the Indian flag. She even faced possible persecution by the Indian Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. We think she should give back her Padma Shri and Arjuna Awards. Let Pakistan give her the Pride of Performance for marrying Shoaib Malik. We’d love to hear the Pakistani Taliban’s take on her skirts!

The Pakistani take: Sania Mirza…of course, what else did you expect from Shoaib Malik who was desperate to marry an Indian girl. Lekin Sania toh ab puri quam ki chhoti bahu hai. She is our daughter now and we must protect out sister’s izzat. Skirts are totally out but she can play the Grand Slam if she agrees to play in a shalwar. And anyway jee, she doesn’t need to play another game in her life. Shoaib bhai only has a one-year ban from PCB, after that he will be rolling in cash. Until then, they can survive on shaadi ki salaamis. Waisey bhi, bhaabhi jee will be on family way soon and then she will be taking care of the baby, no?

Sania Mirza’s take: I knew this would be the perfect decoy to take attention away from my slipping rankings but bloody hell, what have I gotten myself into?

Shoaib Malik’s take: I’m so lucky for having not one but two wives from India. Aur as you all know, by the grace of God, I am allowed two more.

My take: The marriage between Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza will be the biggest match played between India and Pakistan, viewed by almost 1.5 billion people both sides of the border. Whether it becomes the World Cup Tournament or the Grand Slam is yet to be seen but it already has the peoples’ interest piqued to a maximum. They are already charged up, Pakistanis doing the dhol dhamakka outside Malik’s house in Sialkot and Indian right wing activists burning effigies of Mirza for betraying the country by marrying a Pakistani.

“It is wrong to strengthen ties with Pakistan,” an angry Pramod Muthalik, leader of Sri Ram Sena, said, voicing the sentiments of millions of Indians. “Sania Mirza didn’t find a suitable match for herself among one billion Indians; she doesn’t even find a single man among 150 million (Indian) Muslims?” he questioned sarcastically. He called upon the Indian government to prohibit Mirza from representing India in any future event.

The man has a point and many Pakistanis are thinking on the same lines except here’s where the all-famous South Asian male chauvinism kicks in. Pakistanis at large are simply delighted about bringing an Indian in as the bahu and being baraatis at this wedding. They are also eyeing the fringe benefits or dowry that Mirza may be bringing in: her tennis racket! After all, Pakistan Tennis Federation Chief Dilawer Abbas took no time in commenting that “Sania should now play for Pakistan.”

The question then will be: can she play in that all-revealing white mini-skirt?

It is amazing how almost all post announcement pictures of Sania Mirza have been of her wearing traditional garb. Not one of her in that objectionable little white skirt that had the mullahs up in arms. Has everyone conveniently forgotten the fact that Mirza plays tennis in the customary uniform? Even Indian-Muslim clerics have objected to it and it won’t be long before she faces a ban (or fatwa) on her hemline in Pakistan too. In fact, Mirza’s attire could be enough to alight effigies of her in Sialkot, her sasural!

No wonder the couple has decided to settle down in Dubai. Mirza may play in the Dubai Tennis Tournaments but beyond the UAE, I personally think her sporting career is as good as over. She has announced her intentions of continuing to play for India but it’s a long shot.

Let’s forget the sport implications for a moment. In terms of news value, this marriage between Shoania (coined in the same mettle as Brangelina, Saifeena or Abhiwarya) is as good, even better, than any singular sports tournament. And one cannot even fathom why Mirza would say that she had no idea it would elicit so much publicity. Does she not live in the same world as we do?

The big question on everyone’s mind is this: Shoaib Malik may have finally gotten his dream of marrying an Indian girl (he is allegedly already married to the Hyderabad-based Ayesha Siddiqui) but what’s in this deal for Sania? Either the 24 year old knows that her tennis career is already close to being over (she has been ranked at 92 this year) or love truly is blind! There could be no other explanation for her to risk her career, popularity and nationality for one Shoaib Malik. If it were Imran Khan we would completely understand but this is Malik, who faces a one year ban from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Again…this is Shoaib Malik we’re talking about! Can someone please crack the code?

ps. The wedding takes place on April 15 and the way Pakistani news channels are playing romantic Indian songs to their photographs is absolutely ludicrous. What do you think?

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