World Cup: India and Pakistan fans have a ball in the stands

Ahead of the high-profile clash, the ICC was contemplating a ban on spectators wearing masks of political leaders to not trigger any emotional upsurge; but the fans in Manchester were surprised to see Narendra Modi masks.

India and Pakistan fans at the high-octane World Cup clash in Manchester on Sunday.   -  AFP

Just like the cricketers, an India-Pakistan World Cup fixture is always a battle of nerves for the cricket scribes. There are deadlines to meet and stories to chase.The adrenaline rush is a notch higher.

On Sunday, the fickle English weather turned the journalists into weather forecasters. England has been witnessing incessant rain for the past few days and there were speculations that the game could be a washout. 

Most people inside the ground were flooded with weather queries on WhatsApp and Twitter. “Back home, people were worried that rain may play spoilsport. These days, we hardly get to see India-Pakistan games, so nobody wants to miss this action. Since last night, the phone just didn’t stop ringing,” said Iftikhar Hussain, Bureau Chief at Dawn News in Islamabad.

IND v PAK, Live score and commentary

It was no different for the scribes from England. “When we were doing build-up to the match, we got so many messages on social media, with fans asking whether the rain has stopped. That’s the fun of an India-Pakistan match,” said Sam Morshead, who is covering the fixture for The Cricketer

The Dhoni wave

Mahendra Singh Dhoni received a thunderous welcome as he walked into bat. The seasoned campaigner became the second most-capped Indian player (344) in ODI history. He equaled Rahul Dravid’s record. Sachin Tendulkar is on top of the list with 463 games.  He, however, was dismissed for 1 by Mohammad Amir amid the noise.

Janab, uth jaiye!

Fielding has been a concern for Pakistan in World Cup 2019. As the fielders continued the sloppy show, some of the Pakistan fans tickled a few bones. When Mohammad Amir was caught unaware on a couple of occasions, a section of fans — who came all the way from Karachi — shouted: “Janab, subah ho gaya hai, uth jaiye… (Sir, it’s morning. Wake up)”.

READ| Manchester weather today LIVE updates: Rain threat at bay in India vs Pakistan match at Old Trafford

When Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul went on a rampage, another group [of fans] had a go at Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and chief selector Inzamam ul Haq. “Ghar se phone aaya ke nahi…(Did you get a phone call from home yet?” they said, hinting at the PCB; all in good humour.

Modi masks

Ahead of the clash, there were reports that hinted at a possible ban on spectators wearing masks of political leaders to not trigger any emotional upsurge. But the fans in Manchester were surprised to see two Modis in the house. Indian fans Rakesh Maheshwari and Hemant Agarwal wore Modi masks, along with the typical saffron kurta and an artificial white beard.

Rakesh Maheshwari and Hemant Agarwal from Siliguri in West Bengal landed at the Old Trafford ground wearing Modi masks.   -  SHAYAN ACHARYA


"We have come here all the way from Siliguri in West Bengal. We have come here just for this game and to cheer for the team," Agarwal said, making it clear that the love for Modi made them wear the masks.

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