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India vs Pakistan: Where cricket balls fly and diplomatic pleasantries die!

Updated on: 09 June,2024 09:31 PM IST  |  New York
Srijanee Majumdar | srijanee.majumdar@mid-day.com

Beyond the borders of India and Pakistan, the clash ignites excitement among immigrants from other South Asian nations where cricket holds sway

India vs Pakistan: Where cricket balls fly and diplomatic pleasantries die!

While both India and Pakistan boast formidable cricketing pedigrees, encounters between the two nations are rare outside of official ICC competitions (Pic: PTI)

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In the heart of one of the world's most diverse cities, New Yorkers are poised to witness a historic event this Sunday, the inaugural T20 World Cup 2024 match to grace a US city, featuring two titans of the sport, India and Pakistan.


"The India-Pakistan showdown is the pinnacle of cricket excitement, and the fact that it's happening right here in our backyard is simply exhilarating," remarked Ajith Shetty, president of two esteemed local cricket leagues, his anticipation palpable in every word.


As the excitement mounts for this monumental clash, residents of the vibrant Little India neighborhood in Queens, just a stone's throw away from the makeshift stadium at Eisenhower Park on Long Island, share in the fervour, albeit from a distance. For many, the soaring ticket prices prove prohibitive, relegating them to watching the spectacle unfold on their mobile devices.


The significance of this moment cannot be overstated. It marks the inception of the Cricket World Cup in the United States, adopting the fast-paced T20 format, a departure from the traditional test matches lasting several days. However, the exorbitant prices on the resale market, with tickets fetching no less than $800, have drawn criticism from Lalit Modi, the visionary behind the Indian Premier League (IPL), who decries the commercialization of the event.

"This tournament in the US is about expanding the game and engaging fans, not exploiting profits from ticket sales," Modi emphasized, echoing sentiments of many within the cricketing community.

Also Read: Ex-cricket stars back India to emerge champions in 'mother of all battles'

Beyond the borders of India and Pakistan, the clash ignites excitement among immigrants from other South Asian nations where cricket holds sway. "It's akin to a battle between lions and tigers," remarked Faros Ahmed, a Bangladeshi native, encapsulating the intensity of the rivalry. As the manager of a local restaurant, Ahmed pledges allegiance to Pakistan, vowing to broadcast the match for his patrons, irrespective of nationality.

While both India and Pakistan boast formidable cricketing pedigrees, encounters between the two nations are rare outside of official ICC competitions, adding an extra layer of significance to Sunday's showdown. Roop Sajnani, a native of India with vivid memories of his family's displacement during the partition, harbors a fervent desire for vengeance against Pakistan. Meanwhile, in the bustling enclave of Little India, a mosaic of nationalities converges, with Bangladeshis, in particular, rallying behind Pakistan, a testament to the enduring bonds forged through shared history.

For some, the joy lies not in victory but in witnessing their rival falter. Mostakim Shahed, a Bangladeshi student, admits to relishing India's potential defeat, citing their perceived dominance and wealth within the cricketing realm. "We derive pleasure from seeing India lose, regardless of the opponent," Shahed quipped, highlighting a sentiment echoed by many across the subcontinent.

As the anticipation builds, Sunday's match assumes paramount importance for Pakistan, reeling from an unexpected defeat to the United States. Wajahat S. Khan, a Pakistani journalist based in New York, encapsulates the prevailing mood, oscillating between excitement and trepidation. Despite grim forecasts predicting a Pakistan defeat, Khan remains steadfast in his belief in the team's resilience, cautioning against underestimating their prowess. The recent upset victory by the United States has sparked a newfound interest in cricket across the nation, propelling the sport into the spotlight.

Amidst the frenzy of the tournament, Ajith Shetty, the stalwart of local cricketing circles, envisions a legacy extending beyond the final whistle in June. He harbors hopes of enhanced infrastructure for players in the New York area, although the dismantling of the Long Island stadium in July poses a logistical challenge for future endeavors. Nevertheless, Shetty remains undeterred in his quest for a dedicated arena, driven by a passion that transcends boundaries.

As the sun sets on the eve of the historic encounter, New York brims with anticipation, a melting pot of cultures united in their love for cricket. For in this cultural crossroads of the world, where dreams are realized and legacies forged, Sunday promises to etch its name in the annals of sporting history.

(With AFP inputs)

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