For the love of the Green Shirts

Motala, who has his roots in Surat, and Bashir were just two of the hundreds of Pakistani cricket fans who thronged the PCA Stadium here to support the team in its World Twenty20 matches against New Zealand and Australia.

Farouk Motala (right) with his wife Fathima and his grandsons.   -  Y. B. Sarangi

For 68-year-old Johannesburg-based builder Farouk Motala and 21-year-old engineering student from Peshawar, Khalid Bashir, the love for Pakistan cricket is an essential part of their existence.

Motala, who has his roots in Surat, and Bashir were just two of the hundreds of Pakistani cricket fans who thronged the PCA Stadium here to support the team in its World Twenty20 matches against New Zealand and Australia.

The flamboyance of the Pakistan cricket team has been the biggest attraction for Motala and Bashir, who have been following the Green Shirts in different parts of the globe.

Motala's love story with Pakistan started way back in 1993 when he was appointed the visiting team's liaison officer on its first tour to South Africa. “My wife used to cook food for the entire Pakistan team and I used to feed them. From that time, I developed a good friendship with all the Pakistani cricketers. Waqar (Younus) and Wasim (Akram) are very dear friends of mine,” said Motala, who is here with his wife Fathima and two grandsons.

“Normally I spend from my own pocket to travel around the world with the Pakistani team but on a few occasions the Pakistan Cricket Board has also sponsored my trips,” said Motala, who also knows Virender Sehwag and Ashish Nehra.

Motala is delighted to share that, one of his 20 grandchildren, Ushman Salajee, is very close to play for the South African under-16 team in near future. Donning Pakistan colours, Motala is sad to see Pakistan’s current slump in form.

Bashir, who has been chasing the side for the last two-three years in countries like Australia, Bangladesh and here, is pained too. “Sad to see this. But Lala (Shahid Afridi) has nothing to do with the team’s poor form. He is such a fantastic player and should lead the team to better results.”

However, Bashir is happy for India’s star batsman Virat Kohli. “I and my sister also support Virat Kohli. He is such a fine cricketer.”

Bashir is proud of the Pakistan women's team in the World Twenty20. “It is really heartening to see the way the Pakistani women have been performing. It will surely increase their fan following back home,” he said.