Exclusive: When Kapil Dev met famous Pakistani fan ‘Chacha’

Abdul Jalil has become an iconic figure in cricket, waving the Pakistan flag in the biggest matches around the world and smiling, posing with fans from both sides of the border



'Chacha' Abdul Jalil (right) with Indian fan Kapil Dev at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. — Rituraj Borkakoty
'Chacha' Abdul Jalil (right) with Indian fan Kapil Dev at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. — Rituraj Borkakoty
by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 4 Sep 2022, 11:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Sep 2022, 12:20 AM

“Chacha (Uncle), Salam Alaikum, I am from India, but I am your big fan,” an Indian fan greeted Abdul Jalil, the famous bearded fan, who is popularly known as 'Chacha' for travelling around the world to support the Pakistan cricket team.

As it turned out, the Indian fan's namesake is one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history.

“My name is Kapil Dev, Chacha, and I am so happy to meet you today,” the Indian fan said as he hugged ‘Chacha’ as both sets of fans — waving the India and Pakistan flags — walked past the duo at the sun-baked Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday, a couple of hours before the start of the Asia Cup Super Four clash between the two bitter rivals.

“I have seen Chacha only on the screen, but this is the first time, I have met him in person. I am very happy to have met him and talked to him today. It’s a great feeling really. Chacha ji has a great personality,” Dev told Khaleej Times as he hugged Jalil again.

Abdul Jalil has become an iconic figure in cricket, waving the Pakistan flag in the biggest matches around the world and smiling, posing with fans from both sides of the border.

“I am the best cheerleader in cricket history. I have watched the highest number of matches as a fan and I have watched more than 50 India-Pakistan matches. I have probably been photographed more than most famous cricketers in the world,” Jalil told Khaleej Times with a beaming smile.

“Victory and defeat, these are part of the game. But it’s these moments, when fans recognise me and show me love, fans from both India and Pakistan, I really love these moments.”

While Jalil is recognised around the world in cricket matches, it was in Sharjah that he first became famous.

“I came to Abu Dhabi in 1973 and I lived here for almost 50 years,” he said.

“But I watched my first match as a fan in 1969 back in Pakistan. I remember it was at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. It was a match between England and Pakistan. But, as a cricket fan, it was here in the UAE that I first became famous, when Javed Miandad hit that last-ball six against India in 1986.”

Jalil, who braved the sweltering conditions in Dubai on Sunday, then revealed what keeps him going at the age of 73.

“I look after myself well, I do light physical exercises. That’s how I keep myself fit. Plus, cricket is my passion, it’s a game I played in my youth, so I know this sport very well,” he said before pointing to the names of his sponsors in his outfit.

“I am grateful to my sponsors, ACE Money Transfer and Bright Solution. Thanks to them, I have been able to travel around the world for matches,” he said.

“It’s also because of cricket that I have been able to do a lot of work for people’s welfare in Pakistan. I feel privileged to be able to do that and cricket has made it possible. That really makes me happy.”


More news from Sports