Twenty20 World Cup 2009 June 4, 2009

British Asians can electrify this World Cup


Passionate rival fans at The Oval can peacefully co-exist © Getty Images

It was an amusing juxtaposition. The Oval was pulsating and bursting at the seams as Asia's old enemies got excited over a "warm-up." Meanwhile, a meagre politely-applauding crowd watched the home nation at Lord's. The matches were equally one-sided but the atmosphere at The Oval was worthy of a World Cup Final.

I approached The Oval expecting a buzz but fearing a riot. My mind goes back to my first India-Pakistan match, an unofficial one-dayer in the early 1980s that took place in the small Yorkshire town of Harrogate. Possibly ten times the ground capacity had crammed into the ground and onto the pitch, with the boundaries pulled in to accommodate the fans. There was passion, an uneasy tension, and countless pitch invasions. At one point, an Indian fan ran across the pitch waving his country's flag, and several hundred Pakistan fans immediately chased after him. Who knows what happened to him?

Just under thirty years later, British Asians are equally passionate about their teams, perhaps surprisingly so as each generation places mistier memories between itself and its familial homeland. Yet at The Oval both sets of fans sat side by side, often stood side by side, and frequently chanted side by side--chants influenced by football rather than Bollywood.

"Are you Scotland in disguise?" mocked India's young fans, as their team romped to victory. The Pakistan fans sitting next to them smiled back. The Indian fans had done just the same when they had been taunted. If there was a greater pleasure than seeing India and Pakistan competing on a cricket pitch then this healthy and good humoured rivalry was it.

Now the supporters of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka must continue in this fashion until the end of the tournament. They have an opportunity to show their compatriots around the world that competition needn't lead to hatred. By electrifying this World Cup, British Asian supporters can make this a memorable competition and, let's hope, a turning point in the damaging trajectory of international cricket.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on July 16, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    I invite the comments of Gurus of Cricket worldwide to comment after taking into account the performance of Pakistan Cricket Team under T20 World Cup and not long their misearable performance in Test series against Sri Lanka. Was it internal politics within Pakistan Team and the Management or careless batting of the team. What measures are required to kill permanenetly such politics. I feel the only way is to kickout those who think they are too big for their shoes and give chance to new bloods/faces as proven by Fawad Alam and Aamir. I am sure there are lot knocking at the door to give their best. Last but not least reduce the quantum of remuneration given and reduce too many cooks unnecessary passengers accompanying the team,who are not doing anything but politicising the players. Thanks

  • testli5504537 on June 8, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    good game and good spirit. I strongly believe that between the two countries, borders should be made irrelevant. It should be done in a gradual fashion....but surely it would do hell lot of good to people on both sides. We have lived together as one country before, sure we can do at least this much!!!

  • testli5504537 on June 8, 2009, 19:30 GMT

    Most dispicable,disgraced,unspeakable show was put up the Pakistan team .Not on one accasion I fely they will win.Horrible fielding .We have more of Pre-madonas then real lover of the game who wan to make their fans & country proud. Basically the whole country is in a state of chaos .It was politically now the sports,totally destroyed .We are not a healthy nation at all.Cricket use to be our pride with Hockey both sports are in gutters.Unbelivable .The beauty of the game is that they don't show remorse at all,don't feel sorry at all even by the body langauge .They do as if we are obligated to see them playing .No Sir not at all.I would rather see Indian Team being a Pakistani.I hope they lose to Holland & would be out of T-20 misery.They gonna win world cup Oh my God asking a rooster to lay an egg. Thanks U Kamran Bhai .If U wan to edit go ahead

  • testli5504537 on June 7, 2009, 7:44 GMT

    Umar Gul: our best fast bowler. He bowls excellent yorkers and is great in all forms of cricket.

    Sohail Tanvir: drop him for now. He has been out of form since the SL ODIs. Let him find form in domestic cricket then return.

    Mohammad Aamer: bowled real well against India. Wasim Akram praises this guy alot and along with Amhed Shahzad is very good young player.

  • testli5504537 on June 7, 2009, 4:51 GMT

    Pakistan need these changes:

    1) YK needs to be "sharp" in making decisions while in the field - how to use bowlers effectively in particular. 2) The lefty Fawd Alam must be in the side. He can bowl, bat and field - all good. 3) I do not see Butt and Arfat positions in the side. One of the senior players (Malk, YK, Afridi) needs to open the inning. 4) Less extras. No "No" balls please!

  • testli5504537 on June 7, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    Its true there was love every where...I met a very cute Indian chick and we hooked up later!...even though my team lost, i won :-)

  • testli5504537 on June 7, 2009, 2:18 GMT

    India vs Pakistan matches have been like this for a while now which is why it is such a shame to see the nonsensical antics off the field.

    For the match itself, Younis was definately in experimentation mode though I think he should have taken the game a little more seriously on the basis alone of it being played against India.

    Mohammed Aamer - quite an intriguing talent. we need him to open the bowling. Could he bridge the gap that was created by Asif's drug issues.

    Umar Gul - lets hope this was an off game....

    Saeed Ajmal - good stuff though didn't look as penetrating as he did agaisnt Aus.

    Ahmad Shahzad - wow..5 hours of some scintillating stuff. give this boy some experience and he could be huge.

    Rohit Sharma - again WOW! devastating.

    I am concerened by the inability of the Pakistani bowlers to even cause problems for the Indians. They recovered with the bat but the way the Indians played, I don't even think another 30 or so runs would have been enough.

  • testli5504537 on June 6, 2009, 17:51 GMT

    ""Posted by: Sdon at June 5, 2009 2:08 PM

    Let's blame India, BCCI, Lalit Modi, IPL for this too! :)""

    if you insist!!

  • testli5504537 on June 6, 2009, 15:29 GMT

    It was an interesting match one must say, and the ambiance was not of a WarmUp but a regular and to be precise was looked like a Semis or Grand Finale, Keep up the Indo Pakistan essence mates.

  • testli5504537 on June 6, 2009, 14:02 GMT

    Indian Fans make the world cup exciting...but I have to say England as host nation for Twenty20 JUST DOES NOT WORK!!! Look how boring the atmosphere is...not like South Africa or IPL in India...just no excitement!! No loud music when there is a 4/6, not enough hot cheer leaders....just soooooooo dull!! Only the India-Pakistan matches will be exciting due to the Indian/Paskistani fans.... no more Twenty20 world cup here unless the crowd are give prozac shots....they seem like theyre at a test match or funeral!!! get some life into you people!!!

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