LONDON: When arch rivals India and Pakistan cricket teams face each other in the final of a major event the buzz and enjoyment are at the peak, as a packed Oval reverberated on Sunday.
Two years ago it was Adelaide which hosted an India-Pakistan match with numbers touching 60,000. Here at The Oval its 26,000 but the cacophony matched that of any Indo-Pak match.
Fans had thronged the stadium since morning as India’s blue and tri-colour dominated, just like it did at the Edgbaston when arch rivals met in the first Group match on June 4.
But this is a bigger occasion. Tickets were black marketed at many times the original price while some fans had to return dejected as there were no tickets available at the ground.
But once teams took the field, all regrets and apprehensions were left behind.
The last time India faced Pakistan in an ICC event final was in the T20 World Cup in 2007 when India won the title. They have also dominated Pakistan in recent matches, having won six of the nine matches since 2011 World Cup.
That made India team favourites as Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bowl first.
With a mouth watering clash to look forward, fans settled in the stands much after the first ball was bowled.
Chacha Cricket Sufi Abdul Jaleel has been omnipresent in Pakistan’s matches. He had reached The Oval two hours before the start.
“I am here to support Pakistan,” said Chacha, waiving a big Pakistan flag. “India has beaten us in most of the ICC events but this is our turn and we will show them that we can also win.”
But Harish Panday, who has come from Baroda to watch the final, was quick to hit back.
“It will again be India,” said Panday. “Pakistan do not have a team to beat us so it will again be India and Pakistan will have to go empty handed.”
Stands dominated the blues and tri-colours but they have less moments of joy as opener Fakhar Zaman knocked a brilliant hundred to help Pakistan to a big 338 run total.
Now the Pakistan fans hope bowlers will do the job for them to celebrate whole night.