Pakistani fans were disappointed by the end of their team’s run in the ICC Cricket World Cup even as fans across the border in India broke out in ecstatic celebrations as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in the semi-final.
Fans across Pakistan, from Karachi to Peshawar, were crestfallen at the team’s exit from the tournament, though most did not level any allegations of match-fixing, as has been common in the past. They did, however, want to blame at least some of the players.
“We lost because of Misbah, as he did not score well when it was most required,” angry fan Awais Shakir told AFP on Islamabad’s main Jinnah Avenue as thousands of disappointed fans were leaving for home.
Some fans, however, appreciated the performance of fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
“Only young Wahab Riaz shone like a star by taking a five wicket haul and bowling danger man Yuvraj Singh for a first ball duck but other teammates and the seniors could not contribute in the possible winning effort,” said Zark Khan, another Karachi resident.
Another fan Nasir Habib said that where he was disappointed over the defeat of the team at the same place he was happy that this day united all Pakistanis in a single platform. “There was no Mohajir, Pakhtoon, Sindhi, Baloch, Shia and Sunni,” Habib said. “All of us were Pakistani because of this match and it is enough for us and we should pay thanks that we spent a whole day as a Pakistani.”
Other fans acknowledged that India had played a better game. “India deserved to win,” said Kashif Abbasi. “The good thing was that our team did not give up without a fight.”
The feelings on the other side of the border, on the other hand, were the exact opposite: unrestrained joy at having defeated archrivals Pakistan on their way to the third World Cup final in Indian cricketing history.
“We love you India,” screamed a group of college girls over Bollywood music blaring across the packed 30,000-seater Punjab Cricket Association stadium as noisy celebrations erupted throughout the country.
“It feels as if we have won the World Cup,” said 23-year-old Anuradha Biswal.
“The match was so close, my heart missed a beat every time the Pakistani batsman hit a four or a six. But our team made us proud tonight.”
The match had generated huge hype ever since the arch-rivals were drawn together for the semi-final, but the fierce contest out in the middle was in stark contrast to the bonhomie in the stands.
“The feeling is as if the bigger brother has won,” said Salma Riyaz, a Pakistani fan who travelled to Mohali for the match. “There was no angry exchange and tempers were never frayed despite the cauldron-like situation. It shows we have matured and take things in the right perspective.” (AFP with additional reporting from our correspondents)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2011.