ICC World Cup 2023: India Emerges Victorious, but Ahmedabad Bears the Brunt

When Babar reached his half-century, there was a notable absence of applause, even as he raised his bat to commemorate this milestone. The anticipation for the India-Pakistan match at the World Cup had been palpable since its announcement, a highly anticipated clash for fans worldwide.

As I arrived in Ahmedabad, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. I’ve had the privilege of attending every World Cup match between these great rivals over the past 12 years (2011 in Mohali, 2015 in Adelaide, and 2019 in Manchester), and this time was no exception. I was fortunate to witness the Ahmedabad game as well.

I reached the stadium at 11 am, a full four hours before the match was scheduled to begin, and within two hours, the venue was almost completely packed. The enthusiasm on every fan’s face was a sight to behold, and I relished the excitement in the air.

However, the contrasting reception given to the two captains during the toss left me taken aback. While Rohit Sharma received a thunderous applause, Babar Azam was met with a chorus of boos. What followed was eerie silence in the packed 132,000-capacity stadium when the Pakistani openers hit boundaries.

What was even more surprising was the tepid response when Babar reached his fifty, with very little applause, despite his raising the bat to celebrate this personal achievement.

Every time India took wickets, the iconic Bollywood song “Chak De India” played, and that’s entirely understandable. But there was a noticeable absence of songs to motivate the Pakistani players. In a World Cup, hosted by India, it’s only fair that the opponent’s music is played and cheered as well. Cricket is a sport cherished by everyone, and spectators have invested a great deal to be present for the game.

Pakistan’s coach, Mickey Arthur, did not hold back his thoughts in the post-match press conference, remarking, “This seemed like a BCCI event and not an ICC event.”

I’ve attended IPL finals at this splendid ground on two occasions, and the DJ played the anthems of both teams. It’s true that MS Dhoni enjoys more support due to his immense popularity, but it’s not a one-sided affair. The opposing team deserves its share of applause as well.

So why should the World Cup be any different? Pakistan should be treated with the same respect and enthusiasm as the other participating teams.

After the game concluded, it was heartening to see Indian players and Pakistani players interacting, shaking hands, and exchanging warm gestures. A particularly remarkable moment was when Virat Kohli presented his Indian national jersey to Babar—a gesture that transcended borders and spoke volumes.

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