Pakistani and Indian cricket fans gesture ahead of the T20 World Cup match. File
India will begin their Asia Cup campaign with a high-voltage encounter against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
The last time the two sides met in the T20 World Cup in October last year, Pakistan had thrashed India by 10 wickets. With scores to settle on Sunday, the fans of the Men in Blue are brimming with enthusiasm, just like their excited Pakistani counterparts.
Fans of both the teams have been present in large numbers outside the practice area for the last three days, just to catch a glimpse of their cricketing heroes.
An Indian fan named Shreya Jha said that Sunday’s clash will be a memorable one for her.
“Immediately after the match, I have a flight to the UK where I study and work. I was born and brought up in Dubai. Sadly, India had lost the only T20 encounter that I saw between the two sides here. It is sad because my friends have started calling me ‘unlucky’ for Team India since then. So I request the Men in Blue to set the record straight on Sunday and make my farewell memorable, so that I can go straight to the airport from the stadium with happy memories.”
Shariq Khan, a resident of Dubai, said that he had gone to see the India-Pakistan match here last year along with his children and other family members.
“While India’s defeat made me sad, I told my children that victory and defeat are part of the game, and the next time we will win. I will again take my children for Sunday’s match, and this time the kids are eagerly waiting for an India victory. We have India T-shirts and flags ready, while the kids have made posters with their own hands supporting the team. Hope Team India don’t disappoint us time,” Khan said.
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Yash Raj, who waited for hours to catch a glimpse of his favourite players, said, “I have been waiting here for the past two days just to see my favourite players upclose and click pictures with them. I will be going to the stadium for the first time on Sunday, so I want to see India script a thumping victory.”
Ram Babu, who has come all the way from Chandigarh to watch the match, was also seen near the team bus, eager to catch a glimpse of his favourite cricketers.
Ram Babu has travelled to different countries for the last several years to watch India play Pakistan, including Bangladesh, Dubai and England.
“As a fan, I want to see a bilateral series between India and Pakistan. I also hope that India will avenge their World T20 defeat against Pakistan on Sunday,” he said.
Saad Aqueel, a public relations professional working in Dubai, will also watch a India-Pakistan clash in a stadium for the first time on Sunday.
“It is going to be a memorable day for me. Despite putting in a lot of efforts, I couldn’t manage a ticket for the World T20 clash between the two sides last year. This time too I got the ticket after a long wait. I want Team India to make the moment memorable,” he said.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Virat Kohli, who will play his 100th T20I on Sunday to become the only Indian cricketer to play 100 matches in three formats of the game. The former India captain, who is going through a prolonged lean patch given the lofty standards he had set for himself, will like to make the most of the historic occasion.
While the Indian team management has backed Kohli to come good all through, the batting icon has also found support from many Pakistani supporters, who called him an amazing player whom they would love to see in action on the field.
Jatar Johnny, who lives in Peshawar, said, “Although I am a hardcore Pakistani supporter, if you ask the name of my favourite batsman, it has to be Virat Kohli.”
Indo-Asian News Service