The cricket fever has reached its high in Kashmir as the people have started counting hours left for a cricket contest between the two traditional and arch rivals-India and Pakistan.
Indian and Pakistan are scheduled to face each other in Australia during the world cup which started on Saturday.
The magnitude of Kashmiri’s love for cricket is as incomprehensible as its feverish intensity. More recently, the game’s popularity has been massively increased with the growth of mass media especially television.
Whenever Pakistan plays especially against India, Kashmir virtually witnesses a halt. The streets wear deserted looks as everyone is glued to television and radio sets, gasping for breath after every ball bowled and every shot played.
When Pakistan will be playing against India, in the world cup contest on Sunday tensions will run high. “It is an almost war-like situation, minus bullets and bombs,” said a cricket fan.
During every India Pakistan cricket fight fingers start crossing and nails are bitted so hard that the spots can be seen after one month.
It is an open secret that Kashmiris madly support for the men in green. This colour will be indeed parrot green this time, not simply because they want Pakistan to win, but because they want men in blue to lose.
Showkat Ahmad a young cricket lover in his excited voice said, “I don’t support only Pakistan for winning the world cup especially the match against India but I support every Nation playing against India.”
“Kashmiris extend their support to any team that is playing against India, be it Australia, West Indies or even Zimbabwe,” Showkat elaborated.
Many shopkeepers and other business holders have planned to remain off so that they can view every bit of the match. “I will not open my whole sale shop to watch the full match and every glimpse of my favourite green team player, “said Abdul Majeed Dar a resident of Barzulla who runs a whole sale shop on the bypass Srinagar.
It is not the first instance that Kashmiri roads are likely to witness deserted look on Sunday but the craze towards this game and love towards the green shirts is old fever which starts from the time when Pakistan slumped to 87 all out while chasing India’s paltry score of 125 in 1984 Rothmans Four Nations Cup at Sharjah to the match at Eden Gardens Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1987, where Saleem Malik, who smashed 72 from 36 balls and saw his team through, last ball six of legendary Javaid Miandad of Chetan Sharma to two massive sixes of Afridi of the bowling of Ashwin very recently.
The match scheduled on Sunday February 15 is likely to increase in the TV viewers because Sunday being the public holiday the government offices and most of the private firms will be off except some coaching centres but the students studying there are also planning to watch the cricket and going to prefer it over their routine.
Zahid Nabi class twelfth student said, “I and my friends have planned to make it a holiday because we love to watch green against blues.”
Kashmiri time and fate has changed from time to time but the support towards the green shirts has never decreased. The two one-day internationals played in Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in 1983 and 1986 will be coming in the minds of Indian cricket lovers even today.
The Indian team lost both games and faced hostile crowds in the stadium who raised anti-India slogans and cheered for the opponents.
In the match against the visiting Caribbean side in 1983, the incredible support for Clive Lloyd’s boys made him wonder if it was a home game.