|15 June, 2019

UAE residents ready for India-Pakistan World Cup match

The match is scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - India v New Zealand - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - June 13, 2019 An India fan during a rain delay.

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - India v New Zealand - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - June 13, 2019 An India fan during a rain delay.

Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Ahead of what can call one of the world's greatest sporting showdowns as arch rivals India and Pakistan face off in the ICC World Cup cricket tournament, the excitement around the match has reached a fever pitch here in the UAE.

Although the match is scheduled on Sunday, first working day of the week, it has not stopped UAE residents from making elaborate plans, get together with their family and friends to enjoy the game.

On mobile or big screen

UAE residents, be it office-goers, housewives, retired people or even students, say they are all set and excited to watch India take on Pakistan for the first time after nine months. India last played Pakistan in the Asia Cup in September last year.

Pakistani national Tabish Zaidi said most of his colleagues and even his boss are cricket buffs, which is why they even plan one international trip annually to watch cricket matches wherever they can. "Especially when it is India and Pakistan match, we schedule our trip accordingly so that we watch the match live. We did so in 2017 at ICC Champions Trophy held in England. However, this year we couldn't manage as some of our team members are away, including our boss."

Tabish, who is the only Pakistani among the cricket enthusiasts at his workplace, said he and his friends have elaborate plans for this Sunday match. "Although we have work on Sunday, that has not dampened our plans of watching the match together.

We will track the match at office through social media and on our phones. After that, we will gather at Bollywood Parks, where we are looking to watch the match on a big screen. If that doesn't work out, then as a back-up plan, a friend has invited me over to watch the match at his place."

Hope for no-rain

Dubai resident since 2002, Husain Mohammed Bhatri, 66, who hails from Mumbai, India, said the only plan and hope is that a good game happens and that it doesn't get washed out by rains.

Husain, who has grown up playing and watching cricket and has witnessed generations of cricketers in his family, said: "Mumbai used to be the home of Indian cricket once upon a time and I have grown up playing the game, even with my dad at club levels. For me, cricket is serious business and more so when it is India-Pakistan match. I watch it so seriously and attentively that I refuse to move from in front of my TV set.

To avoid any kind of disturbance, be it friends, family or whoever, Husain chooses to watch it alone in his room. "I watch it from the first ball until the last one. All my near and dear ones know that those 6-7 hours when I am watching the match, I do not like any kind of interference. For me, it is exciting but not fun as it keeps me on tenterhooks and stressed, especially if my team is not performing well. The match starts at 1.30pm up until 9.30pm. Therefore, I will not go out anywhere and will lock myself with my television set."

Husain, who will be going to Lords for the finals on July 14, said : "Although both India and Pakistan don't allow each other to play on their country grounds due to political upheaval, I wish they start playing more often on the UAE grounds."

Husain watched previous two world cup cricket finals live. "In 2011 I watched it in my hometown Mumbai and the last one was in 2015 in Australia. Hope India manages to reach the finals and I can see them play live when I go for the finals."

A fun event

For Savvy Kisani, cricket tournaments are a great occasion to jam with friends. Hailing from Bangalore, Savvy, her husband and son - all cricket buffs - are glued to their TV sets throughout the tournament, especially during India-Pakistan match.

"India-Pakistan match is a fun event for our family and we invite loads of friends over to watch it with us. "This time, I am making a lot of food, kept some turbans and Indian dhol (drums), and also organised face-painting for children. India-pakistan match is a big occasion for us to party because of all the excitement it garners. It does not matter if we win or lose. On Sunday, we have invited 15 couples and have organised food, dance and celebration. We buy flags, wear our country colour dresses and cheer for the teams.

Savvy believes that the game should be all about fun and not stress. "Another fun element that we do is that we don't side with just our country because then that wont be any fun. We divide ourselves in teams and some of us will support India, while some other Pakistanis to enjoy the game thoroughly. So, if we have 20 people coming, then 10 support India while other 10 support India. We just believe in having fun and enjoying the game."

Everything comes to a standstill

Santhosh Varghese, vice-president at a private firm, is an ardent cricket fan and said he is eagerly waiting for the match for many months now.

"As always India Vs Pakistan cricket matches create a natural excitement and a must-win mindset. Everything comes to a standstill for me and the match takes priority over anything else."

Dubai resident Varghese is currently on vacation in the US. However, he has already downloaded Hotstar App to watch the match and also made arrangements to stream it on his hotel's TV. "I will be watching the match with my family and a few friends because this is such a match that got to be watched with family and friends to enjoy it to the fullest. For me, it's like a festive gathering which I like to enjoy with my loved ones."

Asked if he would give his staff a day off for the match, Varghese said: "It can't always be all work and no play. I don't mind giving a half day off, as it will improve the productivity later. As a work culture, we have flexible timings keeping the demands of the business and social situation, so taking a half day off should be okay as long as it is compensated."

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