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New Yorkers Will Experience Thrilling For High-Voltage India-Pakistan Match

New Yorkers Will Experience Thrilling  For High-Voltage India-Pakistan Match. Photo: Collected

New Yorkers Will Experience Thrilling For High-Voltage India-Pakistan Match. Photo: Collected

At the cultural crossroads of the world, New Yorkers will experience a thrilling first on Sunday - a World Cup cricket match hosted in a US city between Asian powerhouses: rivals India and Pakistan. At the cultural crossroads of the world, New Yorkers will experience a thrilling first on Sunday -- a World Cup cricket match hosted in a US city between Asian powerhouses: rivals India and Pakistan.

"India-Pakistan is the game everyone would like to watch, and... it's happening in our backyard," said Ajith Shetty, president of two local cricket leagues.

"I'm very, very thrilled," the Indian native told AFP on Friday.

However, roughly 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the pop-up stadium at Eisenhower Park on Long Island, fans interviewed in the bustling Little India neighborhood of Queens said they won't be able to attend the game in person.

"I asked about it, but it's so expensive. I'll watch it on my mobile," 31-year-old Rajeet Krishna said.

"Pakistan against India is special... there's a long history there," he said, with the 34,000 seats in the stadium sold out for months.

'Lion Vs. Tiger'

This first Cricket World Cup hosted in the United States is in the T20 format, with games that last around three hours, as opposed to the five-day contests in the traditional test match format.

Tickets on the resale market are going for at least $800, with Indian Premier League (IPL) founder and former president Lalit Modi slamming the inflated prices. The tournament "in the US is for game expansion & fan engagement, not a means to make profits on gate collections," he said on X.

Beyond the Indian and Pakistani communities, the face-off is eagerly anticipated by immigrants from other South Asian countries where cricket is popular.

"Like lion and tiger" is how Faros Ahmed, a 58-year-old of Bangladeshi origin, described the rivalry.

"Even if I am not Indian, not Pakistani, I am going to watch it because this is a high-voltage match," said the restaurant manager, who supports Pakistan and will broadcast the game for his customers.

'Like To See India Lose'

Although both countries are cricket powerhouses, head-to-head matches are rare between the nations. The two sides do not meet outside of official competitions of the ICC, the international cricket federation, and the last test match between them was in 2007.

"We are going to take revenge, we are going to beat them," said Roop Sajnani, an Indian native who manages a sari store.

The 85-year-old recalled how his Hindu family was forced to move from what is today Pakistan into India, in the exodus that preceded partition in 1947.

Many of the businesses and restaurants in Little India are run by Bangladeshis, many of whom lined up behind Pakistan, from which Bangladesh gained its independence in 1971.

"Let's say we just like to see India lose against all the teams," said Mostakim Shahed, a 20-year-old student from Bangladesh, with a smile. 

Sunday's meeting is crucial for Pakistan, which risks elimination in the first round after a surprising loss on Thursday to the United States, ranked 18th in the world. New York-based Pakistani journalist Wajahat S. Khan said he had "never been more excited or terrified about a cricket match at the same time."

The US win over sixth-ranked Pakistan has boosted interest in cricket in the country, where the sport remains well outside the mainstream.

Beyond the tournament, which concludes at the end of June, the local cricket organizer hopes it brings "better infrastructure" for players in the New York area.

They will not, however, benefit from the Long Island stadium, which will be dismantled in July, leaving local leagues to continue their quest for a dedicated arena._AFP

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