Fans in India and Pakistan have called for “peace” and more cricket between the two Asian giants ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup match on Sunday.
The arch-rivals will square off in Dubai in one of the tournament’s biggest games, with a television audience of up to one billion people expected.
However, matches between the two cricket-crazed countries are few and far between, with India having severed bilateral ties with its neighbors in 2007.
“We should play each other more frequently.” “It’s a real treat to see these two teams on the cricket field,” Mohammad Ashraf, a Pakistani working in the UAE, told AFP.
“What a contest, Virat Kohli versus Hasan Ali!” Politicians should not jeopardize all of this for personal gain. Allow them to play cricket. I hope for peace between the two countries.”
In India, there have been protests and calls to boycott the match in response to the recent killings of 11 migrant workers in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
There was a brief thaw in the rivalry when Pakistan visited India for five limited-over matches in 2012-13, but they have only met in multi-nation tournaments since then.
They last met in Manchester in 2019 during the 50-over World Cup, and India was also urged to boycott that game.
“I bought a ticket for the game as soon as it was available online.” “I mean, you look forward to these competitions, especially when you’re so far away from home,” Pankhuri Raj Mehta, an Indian who has been working in Abu Dhabi since 2017, told AFP.
“I’m aware that Pakistan has always been a source of contention. But that is a matter for politicians to resolve. I’ll watch the game with my husband.”
Tickets for the contest were sold out within hours of going on sale, and many private online channels are offering resale of entry passes at exorbitant prices.
However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) declared that the resold tickets were invalid.
The excitement is palpable in Dubai, but some see it as inappropriate given the country’s tensions.
“This exercise is pointless to me.” People are being killed along the border, and we’re playing cricket,” Raghuveer Singh, an Indian visiting Dubai for Expo 2020, told AFP.
“First, put an end to the bloodshed, then play as much as you want.”
Since their independence in 1947, the two countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, which is divided between them.
India enters the game with a perfect 5-0 record in the tournament, led by Virat Kohli.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam stated that “records are meant to be broken,” and the fans agree.
“Inshallah, we will win” (God willing). “See, it’s a new day,” said Hasan Sheikh, a Peshawar native who works as a taxi driver in Dubai.
“With Babar as captain, we have a good team, and our bowling is excellent.” India will suffer as a result of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali.”