ICC World Cup: Aus never too far from USA when it comes to cricket

Adelaide: India and Pakistan, two countries separated by an arbitrary line called a border have a lot more things in common than they ever would care to admit. One of them is their insane passion for cricket and the enormous distances they are willing to travel to watch their favourite team play.

US-based Pakistan fans Mujtaba (left), Wasim and Noman (right) at the Adelaide Oval yesterday. Pics/Subash Jayaraman
US-based Pakistan fans Mujtaba (left), Wasim and Noman (right) at the Adelaide Oval yesterday. Pics/Subash Jayaraman 

The Adelaide Oval yesterday was where all eyes in the cricketing world were set on, and the nearly 40,000 fans of India and Pakistan from all corners of the world decked out in bright team colours put on a show.

Of those were three friends — Wasim (working in IT), Noman and Mujtaba (medical field) who had travelled 10,000 miles from Aurora, a small city in Colorado. They are in Australia, taking a break from their jobs, just to witness the resumption of cross-border rivalry.

They flew from Denver to Adelaide via Los Angeles and Sydney. This would be the only game they are watching at the World Cup and are returning home after spending a couple of days in Sydney and Melbourne, because as they said wryly: "Dhandha chalana hai yaar" (Need to run the business)."

Hemant Dave with his family
Hemant Dave with his family 

For someone that's been on the road for more than seven months, anything that reminds me of home brings with it a sense of warmth and comfort. To my surprise, a middle-aged man, Hemant Dave, wearing a T-shirt from my university in the US was spotted walking to the Oval. As it turns out, he is originally from Gandhinagar (Gujarat), and had lived for many years in US before coming to Adelaide.

Rohan Chandran, one of the many people instrumental in the setting up of Cricinfo in the 1990's has flown in from San Francisco to spend a week watching the World Cup before heading back, and fly in again for the semifinal (Sydney) and final (Melbourne).

This is the second India-Pakistan World Cup clash he has watched. He is a sharp planner as he worked his honeymoon trip to South Africa so that he could watch the epic at Centurion on March 1, 2003.

Silly things like wedding anniversary cannot get in the way of watching a World Cup. Obviously! So, he celebrated 12 years of marriage to his Aussie wife, went out the door and got on a plane to be in Australia in time for the opening match between England and Australia in Melbourne on Saturday.

Many legendary players, over four decades, have fuelled this rivalry on the field but players come, players go and the fandom stays forever. That fandom makes its sacrifices regularly to travel across oceans and continents to keep the rivalry alive off the field. Long may that continue!

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