With their green shirts drowning in a sea of blue, Mohammad Uzair and Asif Syed Ali were a rare sight in Ahmedabad – two Pakistan fans in an Indian dominated crowd of around 120,000 witnessing the biggest show in cricket.
The friends had travelled from their homes in Houston for Saturday’s World Cup clash, vowing to match their counterparts “chant for chant”.
The two joined Mohammad Basheer, also from the United States, as part of the small number of Pakistan fans at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the biggest cricket stadium in the world.
Visa delays have denied virtually all Pakistan fans – especially from across the border – the chance to travel to India despite having World Cup match tickets.
“All’s well that ends well,” said US passport holder Uzair. “Finally, we are here but how? Don’t ask. It was a lengthy and arduous visa process but we managed it and are excited to be here.
“We roamed around Delhi and Uttar Pradesh before coming to Ahmedabad for the big match.”
Uzair and Ali are IT workers and play cricket for the same club in Houston.
“It’s strange that there will be very few Pakistan fans in the stadium but we will do our best to match them slogan for slogan,” said Uzair, holding a banner showing both Indian and Pakistan flags.
“But we hope there are more than two Pakistan fans. It will be a match-up, just like we did at the MCG last year,” said Uzair of the T20 World Cup match between the teams in Melbourne last year.
Not afraid of India’s 7-0 ODI World Cup record against Pakistan, Ali hoped the jinx would be broken.
“Seven is just a number and I see a brake on India’s sequence today,” said Ali.
He added in a spirit of companionship: “But we are wearing Indian blue shirts underneath. In case they win, we will project that blue shirt.”
Both men are fans of India batting star Virat Kohli.
“Kohli is a world-class player and those who compare others with Kohli have no knowledge of cricket,” said Ali, who hopes Pakistan pace bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi excels in Saturday’s match.
“Shaheen is a world-class bowler and I hope he gets wickets against India, but not Kohli!”
Also in the crowd was Mohammad Shahzad who has an Indian wife, Shabana. The couple live in Norway.
“I got a visa without delay and came last night,” Shahzad told AFP. “But it’s disappointing that there are Pakistan fans missing. It’s a sea of blue but I don’t mind if Pakistan win.”
© Agence France-Presse