MANCHESTER: Fans held contrasting emotions after India’s World Cup thrashing of Pakistan on Sunday, but supporters of both teams agreed their volatile rivalry should be left to the cricket field.
India extended their unbeaten World Cup run against Pakistan to seven matches after their 89-run victory via DLS method in Manchester.
Rohit Sharma’s 140 off 113 balls set up the victory for the two-time champions after they posted 336 for five in 50 overs.
Indian bowlers, led by Kuldeep Yadav, kept down Pakistan to 212 for six in their revised chase of 302 in 40 overs.
The match was watched by a passionate capacity crowd at Old Trafford and an estimated television audience of around one billion.
But for all the energy poured into the sporting grudge match, fans were keen that the rivalry between the feuding countries shouldn’t boil over.
“India and Pakistan have been rivals for long in the cricket field but we have to move on from the hatred. This is not war, so take it as a game,” Amit Jain, an Indian at the match told AFP.
“All those news channels that were trying to spread hate are looking for some other news now. This is done and dusted for them. So we should realise this and grow up,” the 43-year-old London businessman added.
Most of the Pakistan supporters had already left Old Trafford after their team were 166 for six in 35 overs when rain interrupted play.
The game resumed with Pakistan needing 136 in five overs and the writing was on the wall as India closed out a deserved win.
Peace is what we need
“India is a great team, no doubt about it and (Virat) Kohli a man who leads from the front. We knew we had little chance but had to keep our morale up by saying that we are going to win,” said Ashraf Ali, a dejected Pakistan fan.
“But it was fun sitting along side our Indian friends and watching a good game of cricket. That’s how it should be. Peace is what we need.”
Back home in India and Pakistan it was approaching midnight by the time the game ended.
In India there were joyous celebrations among the depleted crowd of a few hundred fans who had stayed until the end in the northern city of Gurgaon.
Satyam Mishra, a fan in Gurgaon, said after the match: “Today the josh (patriotic enthusiasm) is at the top of the level. I can’t express in words.”
Fans in Islamabad braved the heat to watch the match on big screens in a public park, but they began to thin out rapidly as Pakistan’s loss became inevitable.
“My Pakistani patriot tweet for the day: It is just a game,” tweeted former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani.
Others were less sanguine. “My thoughts and prayers goes out to the television sets across Pakistan,” tweeted one user along with a photograph of a man aiming an automatic weapon at a TV set airing the match.