India is hosting the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The games, which began on Oct. 5, have 10 teams, including Australia, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa compete for the coveted trophy over seven weeks.
But what makes the 13th edition of the tournament extra special for fans in India and Pakistan is that Pakistan is going to be playing in India after a gap of seven years.
The last time that Pakistan toured India was for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2016.
Ibtisam Chughtai, a Computer Programming student from Pakistan, said he is rooting for the spirit of the game.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to revive cricket in both nations. I am rooting for Babar Azam and my favourite, Haris Rauf,” Chughtai said. “I will also request my college to have a viewing party if they can since the games go on till noon. This will bring together people from both nations and they can enjoy quality cricket.”
Videos of fans cheering and welcoming the Pakistan cricket team in the Indian port city of Hyderabad did the rounds among media outlets in India and social media alike.
Raja Muhammad Uzair Nasir, a first-year Supply Chain Management student from Gilgit, Pakistan, said he was touched by the warm welcome given to Pakistan by India.
“Pakistan playing in India is a good development for cricket,” he said.
“Seeing that the team was received with so much honour and respect was heartwarming. I hope Pakistan can repay that when India comes to Pakistan. Cricket fans in both countries want to see these games,” Uzair said.
Fans on both sides are waiting with bated breath to catch the high-stakes match at 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 (IST), which unfortunately means a 4:30 a.m. for viewers in the Eastern Time zone.
Nitesh Manrai, a first-year business accounting student from Chandigarh, India, said it is the suspense factor that makes him look forward to the match.
“More matches between India and Pakistan should be played in India as there is a huge crowd for these matches. Every ball holds immense suspense. I will be up all night because of the time difference but I will watch it with my friends online,” Manrai said.
In the history of the India-Pakistan One Day International (ODI) cricket rivalry, the odds have been in the latter’s favour. A report on ESPNcricinfo pegs Pakistan’s win rate between 1978 to 2023 at 56.58 per cent.
However, Pakistan have never beaten India in the ICC ODI World Cup.
Deep Patel, a first-year web development student from Gujarat, India, said the competition could be tough given Pakistan’s bowling line-up.
“Their bowling line-up is very strong, we do have to watch out for Haris Rauf,” Patel said.
Cricket between the two countries is often marred by security concerns owing to a long-drawn history of war.
During the Asia Cup in September, India refused to play in Pakistan even though Pakistan was the host country.
Similarly, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi said Pakistan will not visit India if the Indian cricket team doesn’t visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup.
Vats Joshipura, a second-year Computer Systems Technician student from Gujarat, India, said politics should not come in the way of sports.
“Sports should not be interrupted by political issues,” he said. “More such matches should be encouraged. India and Pakistan should have bilateral series.”
Syed Zeeshan Ahmed, a Web Design and Development student from Karachi, Pakistan, said there should be more chances for unrestricted movement between the two countries.
“Cricket ought to remain separate from politics, and there should be more opportunities for unrestricted movement between the two nations,” Zeeshan said.