Indian Border Security Force personnel watch the India-Pakistan World Cup match

We'll watch them on the beaches, we'll watch them in the hills: Indian border patrol personnel at Wagah dig the Adelaide game

Narinder Nanu / © AFP

Dear Cricket Monthly,

When India played Pakistan in the World Cup I sought sanctuary from the madness. No better source for guidance than the greatest piece of writing on the subcontinental schism, Manto's Toba Tek Singh.

Thus I found my way to Keamari, an old part of town with mangroves and a port and insufficient drinking water. There lay Karwan-e-Hayat's Psychiatric Care and Rehabilitation Center.

What a beautiful refuge, two floors around a traditional courtyard. The courtyard had a well-kept garden, which was not used for cricket. The old architecture is pleasing to the eye but also suits our climate with its ventilation and shading. You need ancient forms to take cover from the modern hysteria of one and a half billion souls.

On the ground floor, in a room with about five rows of chairs, a live stream was projected onto a screen. The internet connection was poor, so the roars of the crowd from Adelaide kept stalling, hanging in the air like permanent war. When the Indian openers hit boundaries the sound was like 40,000 barbarians with throat infections.

Nobody at Karwan-e-Hayat was bothered. Virat Kohli was almost caught early on, but even that didn't stir the assembled. They were medicated out of caring - or perhaps they were unsurprised that Pakistan dropped catches. In Adelaide, Sunny, Wasim and Harsha went on about the lively atmosphere, but this was preferable. Watching in this embalmed stillness, the "world's greatest sporting contest" was comfortably banal.

There are 100 beds in the inpatient hospital, but not all are filled. The institute must cover costs without government support, so they can't afford to take everyone in. Over 80% of the patients receive free treatment and rehabilitation services. They have nowhere else to go.

Later, Kohli nearly chopped on to his wicket. There were replays of how he'd done that in the recent past. Sunny said this was a chink in his armour. Two minutes later there were rhapsodies about how well Kohli was pacing his innings. Nobody in their right minds could say Kohli is not a phenomenal craftsman of batting. But nobody mentioned luck.

A Baloch with schizophrenia watched alone on a tiny TV. He said quick salaams to whoever came by and was then left to it. A separatist, of sorts

And at Karwan-e-Hayat those watching who were not patients - the dedicated social workers and attendants - might have looked around and thought, "There but for the grace of God Shiva Allah Krishna Richard Dawkins go I."

In Adelaide there was more fortune at play. Kohli's footwork against spin was shown on a graph. It was masterful, the way he picked up the length. Harsha and Dada salivated over his domination of slow bowlers. They lambasted the Pakistan captain for putting on a part-time spinner. Then the same part-timer induced a nick. Kohli played forward when he should have played back. Dropped by the keeper. "There but for the grace..." and so on. The patients, again, were unmoved.

But fair enough, you make your own luck. Or do you? On a wall of artwork done by patients, the largest picture was a childlike drawing of a Pakistani with a rocket launcher firing at a helicopter that bore the US flag. In the air above, a Pakistani fighter plane shot at a parachute adorned with the stars and stripes. This entire country is recovering from a war one feels is only just beginning, even though we're over a decade in. A hundred beds will not be enough for nearly 200 million Pakistanis. The mental health community will have to alter the classification to Continual Traumatic Stress Disorder.

(By the way, the picture was signed Yousafzai, in our times the most beautiful name in the world.)

On the eve of the match, Pakistani newspapers reported that a 60-year-old farmer in Rawalkot was shot and killed in firing by the Indian Border Security Force. Apparently he was cutting grass, like a groundsman might, 150 metres inside the Line of Control in Pakistan, like a groundsman wouldn't. The Indians killed him and reports said the Pakistanis "befittingly responded" - like it was their innings and they chased admirably. (Evidently Pakistani forces respond better than Pakistani batsmen.)

Phillip Hughes' death delayed a Test match and sent his country into soul-searching contemplation. But nothing could stop India versus Pakistan at a World Cup. If and when there is a nuclear war, they will play on top of the mushroom cloud. Good swinging conditions.

Indian truck driver in Pakistan-administered Kashmir? Bring out the bat and ball

Indian truck driver in Pakistan-administered Kashmir? Bring out the bat and ball Sajjad Qayyum / © AFP

Towards the mindless advertisements the patients had the right idea: a blank face, stoic against modern idiocy. This is not to make light of their saddening condition. Karwan-e-Hayat is a pioneer of state-of-the-art rehabilitation for the mentally ill in Pakistan. The institute believes in not just "curing" patients, but placing them back into society, so they can play a full part. That everyone is clueless, or too rigidly sure, about the right and proper way to play a full part in our societies is another matter.

Not all the patients were silent. There was talk at the back, a couple of alert chaps striking up a conversation. But not about cricket. Some dispute over somebody's luggage. A more restless man, tormented by demons who couldn't care less about bats and balls, was escorted out by one of the attendants.

Ah, but why be attuned just to the dark side. Everybody in Adelaide was having a ball, especially the Indians - who made up most of the crowd - as their bowlers dismantled the Pakistani innings. There seemed to be lots of Indians in Australia. I guess they love their country so much they emigrated, or they've exploited their fellow citizens so effectively they can afford the jaunt. Pakistani fans deserve the same suspicions, of course, but these days visas are more difficult to procure, and the economy doesn't measure up to the neighbour's.

At Karwan-e-Hayat very few were down under, even in their imaginations. The patients began to filter out midway through the first innings. The cricket wasn't riveting, with singles here and there, the scoreboard ticking over. But this wasn't the reason. They had more pressing needs: some went off for an early lunch, some for rest, some for more medication. Of those who stayed, one could see, somewhere deep in the eyes, a stirring, an enjoyment; they were being taken out of the daily humdrum to somewhere more interesting. They deserve still better - but as a society, we don't give it to them.

There was a Baloch with schizophrenia watching alone upstairs on a tiny TV. He said quick salaams to whoever came by and was then left to it. A separatist, of sorts. It was said he was the most interested in cricket of all the patients. Nobody could say for sure whom he was supporting. And nobody cared. There were other things on the mind.

Yours sanely,

Imran Yusuf is from London and lives and works in Karachi. Karwan-e-Hayat is a non-profit institute for better mental health