The biggest screening of the semi-final match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Islamabad was organised by the Capital Development Authority in Fatima Jinnah Park.
This time, however, there were no reports of any fights breaking out at the end, unlike the Pakistan-India match.
Other restaurants had also arranged for screenings of the match, for fans to come together and cheer for the men in green.
In Aabpara the rush was much less than is average for a weekday at night. Shopkeepers put their televisions out, as bystanders huddled together to see the action unfurl.
A 42-inch high-definition TV attracted the most number of people. Next to it, outside another shop, pre-teen madrassa students, with white topis (local caps) on their heads, sat and discussed the match. A little father, a pharmacy employee shuffled between his customers and his neighbour’s 14-inch television, as Sri Lanka appealed for an LBW that was denied.
There was frustration too, as Pakistan’s impending loss became evident. “Here comes the one who gets out first ball,” said Shahid, a spectator in Fatima Jinnah Park, as Shahid Afridi made his way off the crease. “No use staying. They have lost,” he added. Another dejected guy interjected, “I came to see Afridi bat and hit sixes.”
The air was tense, as people hoped for Umer Gul to repeat his performance against South Africa. Their hopes and prayers were not answered.
In Rawalpindi, projection screens were installed on Bank Road in cantonment, Circular Road and Liaquat National Bagh, providing opportunity for people to enjoy the match free of charge. Some enthusiastic youngsters had painted their faces in green and white, representing the national flag.
“We decided to come to Liaquat Bagh. We hope Pakistan wins and we get to enjoy the [ensuing] party,” said Hadayat Ali, a university student.
Faisal Khan, also at the park, said, “I am out with my two young children to enjoy the match.” He added that it is good to enjoy cricket outdoors, especially given the low opportunities available to people to watch international cricket. No international team has come to Pakistan to play cricket after a 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.
Roadside vendors, too, seized on the opportunity and flocked to these temporary screening sites.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2012.
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