When India face Pakistan in any sport, at any venue, one can expect a huge crowd, high security and a lot of tension.
Things were no different when the two countries locked horns in a league-stage match of the T20 World Cup for the Blind at the Aditya Global Sports ground in Nelamangala on Friday.
While Central College grounds -- the other venue for the inaugural edition of the tournament -- would have certainly roped in more, the serene facility, some 50 kms from the heart of Bangalore, reeled in a crowd of around a thousand. Cheering for India despite their insipid performance, the crowd was on their toes right through the afternoon match while 50 policemen were on guard for any unforeseen incident.
Even though some of their chants were derogatory and could have made it tough for the opposition, Pakistan skipper Zeeshan Abbasi was not taken aback by what unfolded and insisted that it was ‘natural for them to do so’.
“The crowd was great but they need to be more neutral and appreciate good cricket irrespective of the opposition,” said Abbasi. “It is, however, natural for the home crowd to support their side but we expected this. We knew that we would have to face such a crowd. We are used to crowds like this in Pakistan.”
Put into bat, India scored 250 for two as Prakasha Jayaramaiah (126) once again came up with a fine century, while Ketan Patel chipped in with a useful 72 from 33 balls. However, this time, their effort was not enough as Pakistan chased the target with eight wickets and seven balls to spare.
Pakistan got off to a bad start as they lost Aleem Murtaza but they found their saviour in Mohammad Akram. Akram, who was run out on 92 from 48 balls, was in his elements and carted India’s bowlers all over the park. The Indian fielding, which has been top class so far, was also a big let down and that facilitated Pakistan’s chase.
Just when Pakistan looked in a spot of bother as Akram was run out, Aamir Isfaq came through in flying colours with a quickfire, unbeaten 90. The fully blind right-hander found his footing early on and stuck it through to carry Pakistan home.
Pakistan celebrated the win by rushing onto the field and singing a song of praise while frantically waving their flag. That did not go too well with the crowd, but they were almost certain that the rivalry would resume somewhere down the line. Only this time India would come out on top, or so they hoped.
Brief scores: India: 250/2 in 20 overs (Prakash Jayaramaiah 126, Ketan Patel 72) lt to Pakistan: 251/2 in 18.5 overs (Mohammad Akram 92, Aamir Ishfaq 90 n.o., Mohammad Jameel 45 n.o.); Nepal: 151/9 in 20 overs lt to England: 152/0 in 8.2 overs (Andy Powers 77 n.o., Matt Dean 63 n.o.); Sri Lanka: 226/4 in 20 overs (Kumara 92, C Deshapriya 54, Matugama 32) bt West Indies: 199/4 in 20 overs (Taussant Gardner 62, Caneel Graham 48, Rodney Ramrattan 36 n.o.); Australia: 245/6 in 20 overs (Pritchard Daniel 81, Mark Haskett 66) bt Bangladesh: 150/6 in 20 overs (Mohammad Sahadat Hossain 58, Mohammad Badal Kumar 40; Hamish Mackenzie 2-19).