India and Pakistan have intense rivalry. They are siblings, who like each other deep down but fight often.
Their love isn't apparent. You see it in their appreciation of each other's culture, entertainers and sportsmen, and even politicians e.g. Indian movies and movie stars are popular in Pakistan and Benazir was popular in India. You also see their love when Indian and Pakistani people meet in a 3rd country, where their media and politicians don't brainwash them. Their they get to know each other really well. I'm from India and one of my best friends is from Pakistan.
Their fights on the other hand are much more evident. Their fights have translated into wars (1965, 1971, 1999), political battles (UN, US/USSR, local politics), movies (Border) and sport rivalries (Cricket, Hockey). We compete in sporting events with fanaticism and millions follow it closely.
One such battle took place in Cricket World Cup 2011.
It started with Pakistan's inspiring performance in preliminary rounds and then them knocking out West Indies (the weakest team in quarter finals) in quarter finals easily.
India was expected to make it to final eight and did. India had to play Australia (4 time world champions) in quarter finals. Australian cricket isn't as strong anymore with many superstars retiring Gilchrist, Hayden, Warne and McGrath). In a thrilling contest, India beat Australia in Motera, Ahmedabad. Indian bowlers restricted Aussies to 260 and the batsmen scored 261.
This setup up a thrilling contest between India and Pakistan for a place in finals.
I was in India during Cricket World Cup 2011 and got to witness this battle in Mohali, Chandigarh. This is my travelog for this particular contest.
60 HOURS OF INDIA-PAKISTAN WORLD CUP CRICKET THRILL
- Baroda to Mumbai by air (12:30pm - 2pm)
- Pick brother from office at 6pm and head to the airport
- Dinner at Mumbai airport at 7pm while watching Sri Lanks vs. New Zealand semi-final match
- Mumbai to Delhi by air (9:30pm - 11:30pm)
Note: There were no direct flights from Baroda to Chandigarh, so I had to go to Mumbai. And then to Delhi from Mumbai as all direct flights from Mumbai to Chandigarh were sold out
- Delhi to Panipat by car (12 midnite to 2:30am)
- Dinner at dhaba (street restaurant) in Murthal - yummy food
- Slept for 2 hrs. Woke up at 5:30pm. Dressed in Indian team T-shirt and shorts. Grabbed my lucky Indian flag that I bought in Motera, Ahmedabad during India-Australia game
- Panipat to Chandigarh by car (6:30am to 10am)- Collected tickets at 10:30am
- Drove to Mohali stadium by car
- Found entrance 1C (11am) after driving around the stadium twice (need better instructions on the road for stadium gates)
- Easy checkin into stadium (20 mins in general first-level security and 2 mins in 1C gate security)
- Sat in block A Pavillion Terrace on south side (11:30am). Good luck with seats: no direct sunlight, beautiful weather
- Watched preparations (wicket and field care, opening cermony preparations, team preparations)- Toss@2pm
- India started batting at 2:30pm
- We were snacking, hydrating thru out the innings
- Our section was filled with top-brass from Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai. Beautiful girls from Delhi, Mumbai, and Chandigarh
- Celebrity sighting: Arbaaz Khan was sitting in our section. Amir Khan, Preity Zinta, Indian PM Manmohan Singh and Indian businessmen were sitting in stands above us. Amir acknowledged the crowd, enjoyed the match thruout.
- Requested others with camera phones to click our pics and email it to us (eagerly awaiting those pics). I guess its time for me to upgrade my Blackberry and get one with a good camera.
- Duel with Pakistani fans sitting above us (noisy, beautiful girl, Afridi's brother, 4 adults, 4 - 6 kids). "Jeetega bhai jeetega India jeetega" would always overshadow "Jeetega bhai jeetega Pakistan jeetega".
- Good gesture from crowd: no booing, no Pakistan hai-hai, friendly, sporting, knowledgeable crowd
- Indian PM, Manmohan singh and Pak PM, Ghelani, met with the teams during opening. Everyone clapped. No one shouted anything bad! Indians love Sachin a lot and everything he does, so the focus was on him instead of the 2 head of states. Someone even shouted "Sachin for Prime Minister"
- India scored less than anticipated batting first (260 instead of 300+). Started well with Sehwag's blisterning (though short) knock but others could not capitalize. Even Tendulkar's inning wasn't impeccable (4 dropped catches)
- Pakistanis start well but wickets keep falling afterwards to push them towards defeat
- Pakistani tails crumbles but not before giving the crowd a few anxious moments (Misbah's 6s)
- Exciting match, tense crowd. Anyone could've won till 90th over in the match!
- Sporting behavior on-field as well. No fights, no verbal duels. Nehra dismissed a close floored catch
- Great gestures off-field: India-Pakistan PMs; Players joking, laughing, shaking hands; Pakistan fan holding the Indian flag after Pakistan lost
- Match presentations: Sachin man of the match. Stadium acoustics suck. No one could hear the captains during the toss, interviews in the presentation ceremony (it was bad in Motera, Ahmedabad too). Punjab Cricket Association please fix it
- Peaceful exit at 11:30pm, decent, helpful crowd. Found car in 10 mins (quite amazing given the number of people and cars)
- Chandigarh to Panipat by car (12 midnite)
- Dinner@dhaba (line hotel) 2am - 2:40am. Yummy tandoori parathe (hail Punjab and Haryana for such great places to eat all along the road)
- Reached Panipat at 3:30am and crashed for 7 hours
- Panipat to Delhi by car (11:30am to 1:45pm)
- Remebered and thanked god for bringing us back safely. Car driving in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana highways is no joke. Its like playing a video game - you play chicken all the time, you expect others to brake for you, lanes have no meaning. If you're tempted to drive yourself, I would advise against it. These roads, laws (or lack thereof) are best known and handled by seasoned drivers in these conditions.- Watched highlights of the game at the airport (thx Hyundai for sponsoring big screens)
- Delhi to Mumbai by air (3pm to 5pm)
- Mumbai airport to home by car (5:30pm - 6:30pm)
Next up, is watching the finale between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.