RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: Indian triumph over Pakistan in a high-octane World Cup semi final poured cold water over cricket hysteria fanned by the media. The frenzy burned out immediately after the Indian side inflicted a defeat upon Pakistan while the cricket fans felt very depressed and humiliated after the game.
There was no activity other than cricket on Wednesday. Be it homes, offices, markets, shops, or one performing duty at a check post everyone remained glued to their televisions screens and radio sets. The roads gave a deserted look while the hotels were jam-packed. Youngsters marched on roads with their cars covered in green flags and national songs at full volume. Crowds at every major square in the city enjoyed the game on mega screens.
Cricket frenzy touched a new high in the garrison city on Wednesday’s high-profile World Cup semi-final, the first match between the two sides on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The Cinepex Cinema Rawalpindi made elaborate arrangements to show the game on big screen. “I feel we have a good chance of beating India as we have won several big gamews against them,” said Riaz Ahmed, a cinema official. Cricket-lovers were praying with gusto longing green shirts to triumph in this high voltage game over blue ones.
In times of deteriorating law and order situation, sky rocketing inflation, and the menace of terrorism this ongoing cricket extravaganza seems it has brought all the nation under its umbrella and gave Pakistanis an opportunity to take a break and enjoy some moments. The tournament has so far proved an opportunity for crisis-hit Pakistanis to entertain and breath.
SMS junkies, with their head in mobile phones, are busy texting hypertexts declaring Pakistani team victorious while ridiculing Indians. The youngsters including boys and girls wearing green shirts and their faces painted with Pakistani flags cheering Pakistani team with every falling wicket. Many of them dancing and celebrating every moment. Haseeb ul Hasan, an over joyous youngster painted himself in Pakistani flag, cheered the team on every success with a group of his friends watching match at a mega screen in commercial market.
Talking to this scribe, Haseeb said that this was a very rare day in his life as he kept awaiting for this match for many days and said that with the grace of Almighty Pakistan would triumph over India on their soil. “We are anxious for the moment the Pakistan emerge victorious and Pakistani flag is hoisted at the Indian land, he said. Uzma Zafar, an MBBS student, said all her prayers were with the Pakistani team and the whole nation was anxiously waiting for its victory. Cricket fans were confident and sure that with the grace of Almighty green shirts would triumph over India and consequently would emerge as World champions to bring a sigh of relief for the nation that is faced by string of crises.
Though the international cricket is on halt in the country, the country seems gripped by a mass cricket-hysteria. “We are dead sure about our victory since the whole nation is praying for team’s triumph,” said the student adding that she had offered nawafils for Pakistan’s success. She lauded Wahab Riaz for taking five wickets in the semi final. Inayat Kaleem, a cricket enthusiast who was watching the match with his family, longed for a glorious Pakistani team triumphing over India. He said that the green shirts were in full momentum and along with the prayers of billions of Pakistanis they would emerge champions.
Cab drivers in the twin city are equally enjoying the game. Most of the taxis remained off the road during the game. The drivers watched the game at hotels or on mega screens installed at various places in the city.
Religious minorities in the country were not behind others in this regard longing for the Pakistan’s triumph over their Indian counterparts in the semi final. Sarah Ashchenaz who works at an international organisation said that the minorities congratulate their cricket stars upon reaching the semi-final. We are proud of our boys and are sure they will bring cup home by defeating India on their soil, she said.
The Christian Community have also offered special prayers for the victory of Pakistani Team in the semi final against India that would provide people an opportunity to think beyond terrorism, shooting up prices and load shedding. She said that though they were minorities yet Pakistan was their beloved homeland whose victory was their victory.
The hotels in the city, cashing in on the hysteria, have also installed screens to show the match. A hotel owner said that it was a unique opportunity as the game would attract a lot of customers and they would earn dough five times higher than a on a routine day.
The youngsters took to the roads after the end of first inning and chanted slogans for Pakistan’s victory. They danced on the national songs. It seems there was no other activity on Wednesday than to follow this high-voltage semi final between Pakistan and India. Pinning hopes for Pakistan’s victory and cricket frenzy has overpowered all.
The scene was not different in the federal capital of Islamabad during the game. Capital Development Authority (CDA) in collaboration with Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) arranged three big screens in the city to screen the match, one each at F-9 Fatima Jinnah Park, Islamabad Stock Exchange Blue Area, and Jinnah Super Market. Islamabad Police ensured special security arrangements particularly for these four venues. A massive crowed along with their families had a wonderful time watching the game at F-9 Fatima Jinnah Park. The main road from Blue Area Khyber plaza to Kalsoom plaza remained suspended during the match hours as thousands cricket lovers gathered in front of the Islamabad Stock Exchange to follow the game.
On the direction of the Chairman CDA, District Management Authority (DMA) made comprehensive arrangements for the festivity at F-9 Park for entertaining the general public. Food festival and colorful programmes were also chalked out at the F-9 Park to provide refreshment and entertainment facilities to the masses. Besides these mega festivities, it seemed a mushrooming of big screens in every neighborhood. Youngsters were seen wearing cricket team uniform and some had painted their faces with Pakistani flag holding national flag to express solidarity with the team. At the end of first inning, the fans started celebrating as though the match had been decided. Youngsters roamed the streets striking out of their car windows and recklessly riding motorbikes.
Meanwhile commuters suffered as public transport became almost extinct after noon onwards. Most of the transporters and cab drivers remained off the road. Commuters suffered at the hands of a few cab drivers that fleeced their customers.