The streets of Ahmedabad were a sea of blue as spectators donning India colours turned up for the marquee World Cup fixture against Pakistan at the 1,32,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium on Saturday.
With just a handful of Pakistan fans and media personnel permitted to attend the matchmost-anticipated fixture of the tournament, the home team enjoyed the maximum crowd support, as it pulled off a convincing seven-wicket win over the arch-rival.
However, sitting in the opponent’s dressing room, Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur felt that it was more like a bilateral series. “It didn’t seem like an ICC event, I would be pretty honest. It looked like a bilateral series, like a BCCI event,” Arthur said after the match. Usually, at every ICC event, fans from across the border turn up in large numbers to cheer for their team. But it was totally different this time around.
“I didn’t hear Dil Dil Pakistan coming through the microphones too often. That does play a role, but I am not using that as an excuse because for us, it was about living in the moment, about the next ball, and about how we would combat the Indian players tonight,” Arthur said.
Asked whether fans should have been granted a visa for the big-ticket event, Arthur said with a sheepish smile, “I don’t want to get fined just yet. I don’t want to get fined.”
With a dominating performance, India extended its unbeaten streak to 8-0 in the World Cup, but Arthur stressed that there was no need for his team to press the panic button just yet. “We are two from three (in terms of wins). So, we’re certainly not panicking yet. We’ll go back and analyse this game. We’ll have conversations about how we want to go forward,” he said.
Pakistan plays Australia in Bengaluru on October 20.