CT: Fan reactions ahead of big final

India is going in as a favourite for the marquee matchup having already comfortably beaten its neighbour in the opening match of the Group B encounter.

V for victory... Indian fans are upbeat ahead of the Champions Trophy final between India and Pakistan. A scene at the Elliots beach in Chennai.   -  R. Ragu

 

A life-size standup of the Champions trophy was placed by a local sports broadcaster at Besant Nagar's Elliot's beach last week to generate interest among the locals. But bursts of rain over the week akin to the theme of the actual tournament washed away the cutout. On Sunday, nearly 8000 residents from the neighbourhood turning up for the ‘Car-free Sunday’ event and were rather upbeat about India bringing home the real trophy.

“An India-Pakistan match is like a war where it happens once in a while and you don’t know who is going to win.”

India is going in as a favourite for the marquee matchup against Pakistan, having already comfortably beaten its neighbour in the opening match. Kohli and Co., however, wouldn’t want to take its opposition lightly as pointed out by one fan, Raghavan Raju, bearing in mind the shock seven-wicket defeat suffered at the hands of Sri Lanka in a high-scoring encounter. “The loss against Sri Lanka was what India needed in a tournament like this. But any match against Pakistan regardless of the importance of the game India will be fired up,” Raju told Sportstar.

Final Preview

In the recent past, India-Pakistan meetings have not lived up to the big-ticket billing of yesteryear battles. Regardless, one of the locals felt that the matchup always packs a punch! “There’s always this heat when both teams face-off. We might take Sri Lanka lightly but not Pakistan,” said Soorya Narayan, who was part of the annual Chennai coastal clean-up initiative at Elliots beach.

While the general feeling among Pakistan fans is not one of high optimism, they feel a win against India would make a perfect fairytale.   -  Getty Images

 

As Virat Kohli and Sarfraz Khan pointed to onus being placed on the collective effort rather than the individual, Soorya echoed the skippers’ sentiments. “It would be hard to pick-out an individual in a game of this magnitude, where even a single bouncer will be hotly contested,” said Soorya.

IND v PAK: In numbers

The narrative of an Indo-Pak cricket game billed as a ‘cricket war’ was not lost on young Chandrasekar, who wouldn’t dare to hazard a guess on the outcome. “An India-Pakistan match is like a war where it happens once in a while and you don’t know who is going to win. The match is more like a carnival, where you wouldn’t mind if either team wins,” said Chandrasekhar.

View from the other side

Meanwhile, Pakistan fans will be hoping for a gift from their national team during the holy month of Ramadan. Alam, from Rawalpindi, hopes for big turnouts at the screenings being organised at the break of fast in their 'gali mohallas'. “It's Sunday so people are just waking up. The mood is electric (here for the match). (Crowd) will get more after 7:30 pm since that's iftar time,” noted Alam, a computer science student.

Where heroes are made

Hamza Khan, a Pakistan national, pursuing his higher studies and working part-time in Canada, is looking forward to another monumental day in the rivalry. However, he feels India might upstage his country in yet another ICC tournament. Hamza felt, “It is exciting and at the same time, has a feeling of inevitability. I feel it would make a perfect fairytale story if we beat India in the last match of the tournament, the team, whose loss (to India by 124 runs) paved the way for us to make changes and improve.”

A special day is in the offing for both sets of diaspora across continents. Hamza and his friends will be up at 4 a.m. in his university to see if Pakistan can get one over India. “Many, including me, have work tomorrow so we prefer facing our Indian coworkers after a win!!” added a hopeful Hamza.