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India-Pakistan Cricket matches are a sporting event like none


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India-Pakistan Cricket matches are a sporting event like none

No match in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup this year will probably have a greater viewership — and attendance — than that of India vs. Pakistan’s. The iconic clash is always the most awaited one in any ICC tournament, especially because it features countries that have the most die-hard cricket fans. India-Pakistan matches have transcended cricket as a sport – they’ve made cricket an emotion, and are a cultural phenomenon on their own.

Sure there’s an enmity, but cricket blurs the lines

Any talk involving India and Pakistan has to address enmity between the two nations. Without a doubt, the hype around the match stems from this very tension. India and Pakistan have been at war with each other multiple times, and both continue to contest their claim over Kashmir. Terrorism has also infiltrated Indian soil heaps of times; an issue the Pakistani regime does not seem to get a hold of.

The animosity between the governments of the two countries has trickled down to its citizens, and manifests itself in both groups of fans. Cricket is an ardently followed sport in both countries – a win or loss in the match is treated as something that deems superiority of either country over the other. But unlike the governments, cricket fans tend to leave these feelings at just that, and focus on the sport that brings them together.

India-Pakistan matches are a phenomena in their own right

Cricket and language unites the people of both these countries. India and Pakistan, despite being torn apart, share a tragic and tumultuous history. The intense hatred between the two nations and its citizens evaporates as their citizens move away, and settle in foreign land. Indians and Pakistanis have rather friendly relations everywhere outside their home countries. The shared love for cricket too is a wonderful meeting point for the two cultures.

There are also elements that are unique to Ind vs Pak matches. Yesterday, a plane with a marquee banner saying ‘Release Imran Khan’ flew above the stadium. But that did nothing to steal people’s attention, as the course of the match kept twisting and turning between either country. A rare fan wore a jersey that was a mix of both India’s and Pakistan’s. No other rival groups of fans would even dream of sporting such an outfit.

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Pakistani content creator Momin Saqib, from the famous ‘waqt badal diye, jazbaat badal diye’ meme, has seen love from both India and Pakistan. Yesterday, after Pakistan’s loss, Momin and fellow Indian fans were walking about together and laughing at Momin poking fun at the defeat. Another identifiable figure is Mohammad Bashir, aka ‘Chicago Chacha,’ who is an ardent fan of former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Bringing cricket to a new world

India-Pakistan matches are nothing short of a spectacle. They usually guarantee venues a near-sold out status, the crowds a vivid mix of blues and greens. The USA is being included for the first time in a sport that is looked down upon by most Americans, and is marvelously being warmed to the idea of it by South-Asian cricket fans. Both India and Pakistan fans brought a new zeal into New York yesterday, in a packed fan-zone in Manhattan and in scattered groups at Times Square. If there’s any country that matches the cricket craze in India, it‘s Pakistan. This year’s quota of the thrilling event is done and dusted, but fans don’t have to wait for long. The two countries will meet each other next in 2025 for the ICC Champions trophy, and will witness another spell of nail-biting cricket.

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