Cricket -- and fans of India and Pakistan cricket -- won once again as the arch-rivals clashed on the field.
Why is it that the UAE comes to a virtual standstill every time Pakistan and India clash on the cricketing ground? Yes, it is the World Cup and yes, indeed, Indians and Pakistanis comprise the biggest demographic group here in the country, but there's more to life than two cricket-mad arch-rivals taking each other on some 7,451km away (thank you, Google Maps) at the Old Trafford in the Greater Manchester area of England. Isn't it?
Okay who am I kidding! Like everyone and their uncles, Team KT - evenly poised when it comes to their favoured side of the subcontinent - was glued to the TV screen yesterday even as the Men in Green ignored their PM's advice to bat first if the flick of the coin favoured captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Imran Khan, Pakistan's World Cup-winning skipper and now PM, had offered his prescription in a five-tweet series early yesterday. Never mind - the rub of the green could have gone either way given the overcast skies and the threat of the rain in the second half. The Men in Blue made good when asked to bat first (there will always be the 'why did Kohli walk' question) yet it isn't the cricketers but the cool fans that I'd like to salute.
What was immensely heartening was the tremendous passion that fans of both countries brought to the stadium - and cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, salons and communities across the world, including here in the UAE. A series of Facebook Lives that Khaleej Times ran yesterday before, during, and after the match saw fans of both great nations support their teams while respecting the boundary line when it came to discussing their rivals. It was a day that saw cricket win - once again - but it also highlighted how similar fans from across the border are. Looking at the camaraderie and sportsmanship displayed by the fans here in the UAE, one wouldn't believe that the two nations were at the brink of war a few months ago. And we at KT celebrated cricket with a delicacy that finds equal favour from both the nations: the mighty samosa.