Fans from both sides of the border has prayed for peace ahead of the most-anticipated match between the most vicious sporting rivalry between India and Pakistan.
The arch-rivals will be locking horns in Dubai, in one of the most intense games of the tournament with an expected television audience of up to one billion people.
The matches between the two asian giants are few and far as India has cut bilateral ties with its neighbours since 2007.
A Pakistan national working in the UAE Muhammad Ashraf said, “We should play with each other more often. It is such a treat to see these two teams on the cricket field.”
“Virat Kohli versus Hasan Ali, what a contest! Politicians should not spoil all this for their own gains. Let them play cricket. I pray for peace between the two nations.”
There was a brief thaw in rivalry when Pakistan toured India for five limited-over matches in 2012-13 but since then have only met in multi-nation tournaments.
They last played at Manchester during the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and India was also urged to boycott that game.
Pankhuri Raj Mehta, An Indian worker in Dubai said, “I bought a ticket for the game as soon as it went online. I mean you look forward to these contests, especially when you are far away from home.”
He added, “I know there has always been trouble with Pakistan. But that’s for the politicians to sort out. I will enjoy the game with my husband.” Tickets for the contest were sold out just hours after they went online and many private online channels are offering resale of the entry passes at ridiculous prices.
But the International Cricket Council (ICC) said that the resold tickets would be invalid.
The excitement is palpable in Dubai but some see this as inappropriate due to tensions between the nations.
“I find this exercise pointless. People are being killed in the border area and we are playing cricket,” Raghuveer Singh, an Indian who is visiting Dubai Expo said.
Ilyas Khan, a pan shop owner in Lahore, said that Cricket can change the diplomatic ties between the countries citing Zia’s era when the leaders from both India and Pakistan often paid formal visits on the pretext of witnessing the match.
Ilyas Khan hoped the ties between the countries would be normalised one day and cricket fans like him would witness more from the biggest rivalry between the two giants.
Virat Kohli’s India comes into the contest with an unbeaten 5-0 record in the tournament.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said “records are meant to be broken” and the fans echo their captain’s sentiments.
Hasan Sheikh, a Peshawar-born driver in Dubai said, “We will win inshallah (God willing). See, it’s a new day.”
“We have a good team with Babar as the captain and our bowling is great. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali will hurt India.”