Pakistan vs South Africa: Optimistic sea of green surrounds 'obscure' Lord's

Ever since the defeat to India last week, Pakistan fans have had very little to cheer for but on Sunday, as they walked to Lord’s for the must-win fixture against South Africa, they looked confident.

Sea of Green: Pakistan fans make their way to the Lord's cricket ground ahead of Pakistan's World Cup 2019 fixture against South Africa.   -  Shayan Acharya

“Lord’s cricket ground? Where’s that?” one of the staff at the Euston railway station, in the heart of London, asked.

“Are you sure there’s something like that?” he asked again, to be doubly sure that the scribe from India -- by then he had checked my accreditation card -- wasn’t messing up the name.

After five minutes of explaining and rounds of exploring the Internet, the staff was finally convinced about the existence of Lord’s. But the gentleman, possibly in his late twenties, was still curious to know the reason behind my visit to the ‘Home of Cricket’.

“World Cup? Oh you mean, the women’s soccer World Cup? Isn’t that happening in France?” he went on, clearly unaware of the cricket World Cup going on in England.

READ | Women's World Cup 2019: Lionesses face Cameroon challenge in last-16

“Oh, there’s a cricket match going on, is it? Good luck…” he said, before instructing me to walk out of the station and look for a bus that would take me to St John’s Wood - the closest stop to Lord’s.

It’s a different story that I managed to find a vintage cab and the driver was "elated" to know that I was heading to the Lord’s!

That was on Saturday. A day later, it was a different picture altogether.

Pakistan fans gathered outside the Lord's cricket ground with national flags and donning jerseys of the 1992 World Cup-winning team.   -  Shayan Acharya

Sea of green

As I walked out of the St John’s Wood tube station on Sunday morning - unable to figure out where to go as the Google maps showed three different directions - all I could see was a sea of green!

Walking with national flags and donning jerseys of the 1992 World Cup-winning team, the Pakistan fans gathered there chanted, “Dil Dil Pakistan” - the iconic number by the late Junaid Jamshed, which has, over the years, become the unofficial theme song for the Pakistan team.

Ever since the defeat to India last week, they had very little to cheer for and on Sunday, as the Pakistan fans walked to Lord’s for the team’s must-win fixture against South Africa, they looked confident. “Aaj toh Pakistan zaroor jitega (Today, Pakistan will definitely win),” Imran, a fan, said.

READ | Imran Tahir becomes South Africa's leading wicket-taker in World Cup

While there were groups of South Africa fans walking towards the ground, the number was far less.

“Our fans have come from all over the country. This is the time of crisis, and we must back the players,” Imran said.

In one of the long queues was Haroon Sahir, a middle-aged man wearing a Pakistan jersey and the Test cap. “We must win all four games… We can do it,” said Haroon, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound.

“This team will bounce back. Keep faith,” said Haroon Sahir, a Pakistan fan.   -  Shayan Acharya

 

Haroon has been living in London for the last few years and every time Pakistan plays a game here, he makes it a point to be in the stands. “He has been a cricket nut. He has been watching cricket since his childhood and still remains passionate about the game,” his cousin, who accompanied him to the ground, said.

As Haroon and his cousin rushed towards their designated gate to find a seat, he said with a smile: “This team will bounce back. Keep faith.”