Firecrackers echo in Valley as Pak cricketer scores big

Firecrackers echo in Valley as Pak cricketer scores big

Seventy-year-old Abdul Satar, a pavement vendor in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, spent his entire day’s earnings bursting firecrackers to celebrate explosive Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi’s ‘booming’ performance in the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Sunday.

Satar, like many other Kashmiris, has long been a cricket lover, but when it is Pakistan playing against India, his adrenaline rise cannot go unnoticed by his family and friends.

Those of his friends who had challenged Satar’s inexplicable belief that Afridi would lead Pakistan to victory are afraid even to bring up the topic, since Satar was bursting firecrackers throughout the night. 

Pakistan has been the most favoured cricketing side for Kashmiris since the 1950s. Tales of a local butcher slicing his transistor radio into two with a cleaver after Muhammad Hanief lost his wicket to an Indian bowler in the 1960s are still told to explain the inexplicable concerning the gentleman’s game in Kashmir.

Over the past six decades, Indian cricketing stars such as Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni and others have also created a large number of fans among the locals.

“There is nothing to parallel Tendulkar’s wrist action. Other batsmen aiming to become great must first learn to develop the cool and focussed temper of this cricketing legend,” Muhammad Ashraf, 60, a former Ranji player who is now a selector for the state’s team for the domestic tournament, said. 

In Srinagar, the loud bangs caused by people bursting firecrackers, especially in the old city areas, did not raise any eyebrows among police during the night.

A healthy development during the past two decades of violence has been that security forces have learnt to differentiate between firecrackers and separatist gunshots.

Interestingly, so have the locals. “I knew it was nothing serious. People must be bursting firecrackers,” said Javaid Ahmad, 57, living in Court Road of uptown Srinagar.

The other side of the celebrations of Afridi’s great performance is the praise and respect for the India team. “India is a great team,” said a college teacher who did not like to be named.

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