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T20 World Cup 2024 | India vs Pakistan: Chaos catches sleepy suburb by surprise

The fans hopped on board an endless stream of buses made available to them and entered the stadium in haste only to be left waiting at the gates.
Last Updated : 09 June 2024, 17:15 IST
Last Updated : 09 June 2024, 17:15 IST

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New York: Eight checkpoints, six of which were a pointless exercise in appeasing the personnel stationed. The serious couple, though, were about as intense as they get: a couple of sniffer dogs, six armed policemen with the license to frisk, unholstered guns, a bomb squad, a stern cavalry, AK-47s resting tautly on the elbows of state troopers. 

When Pat Ryder, the commissioner of Nassau County police, insisted that the security measures for India-Pakistan T20 World Cup game at the Nassau County International stadium on Sunday would trump those used during presidential visits, he wasn’t kidding. 

However, this degree of security scrutiny did not dilute the sense of magnitude. It helped that the in-house DJ was belting some Punjabi numbers. The fans hopped on board an endless stream of buses made available to them and entered the stadium in haste only to be left waiting at the gates. 

They were not allowed to enter the stadium before 8 am for the 10.30 am start, which was expected,  but when there came a steady drizzle, everyone was scurrying for cover when there was none.

It did help that the game was delayed by 30 minutes because of rain. The inspection held at 10.15 am, and the umpires toss happened at 10.30 am before the start at 11 am. 

It was still up in the air because the groundsmen, wary of the overcast conditions, covered pitch No.2 to avoid getting any more triggered than it was already expected to be, and then it began to rain again. This time it was a proper pour.  

While the commotion on the ground was mostly down to the weather, and finding the right seats, which according to numerous fans was a task, even former cricketers were finding it hard to navigate this make-shift coliseum. 

Take Sachin Tendulkar for instance. The India legend, who looks remarkably fit for his age, was left wandering about despite the presence of a personal bodyguard. Even finding a restroom was a task.

Delirious bunch

By the time, he exited, there was a delirious bunch of fans already waiting on him but the armed guard had his hands out before Tendulkar could even acknowledge them. 

Yuvraj Singh and his posse faced no issues finding their way around, but they were being directed and redirected to move only into certain spaces. Yuvraj didn’t look very pleased, but he moved along. 

Imagine then the fate meted out to fans! 

A lot of them had come from as far as India for this game and were left walking for close to ten kilometres from the designated parking areas to the gates. Although the security guards on the roads were good with their sense of direction, with signages not being as prominent as expected, people were a floundering mess, causing a fair of traffic chaos on the avenues leading to the stadium. 

It was nothing compared to what is typically the case in the sub-continent, but this was a little much for the sleepy suburb which has never seen a crowd like this, not just in volume but also in effervescence. 

Only a few miles away, the locals were oblivious to what was happening at Eisenhower Park, filling breakfast joints with a look of consternation as many Pakistani flags swayed out of cars.

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Published 09 June 2024, 17:15 IST

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