FOR ALMOST more than 15,000 fans at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium, it seemed like India was playing at home. Fans had gathered since 12 noon for the 3 pm match between Australia and Pakistan and if some came to see Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, others came to see Aussie Shane Watson, who recently announced his retirement from international cricket.
As Shane Watson smashed Pakistani bowlers for boundaries and sixes, it was the turn of the local fans and the fans from Australia to cheer the Aussie all-rounder. For the Australian fans in the crowd, it was also the batting of Steve Smith which set the tempo for the team for the 21-run win.
“I am a huge fan of Smith and he played with a lot of responsibility today. My daughter is a fan of Glen Maxwell but after he failed with the bat, she was happy to see Shane Watson play a confident innings. Watson showed that he can still play big shots against bowlers like Wahab and Amir, and we were cheering for him too,” said Kirt Mercar, a mathematics teacher from Sydney who had come to watch the match with his daughter Laura Mercar.
If the Mercar family cheered for Australia, the Jhaffor family cheered for Pakistan bowlers Mohammed Amir and Wahab Riaz. While Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi failed with the bat, Pakistan batsman Khalid Latif played a knock of 46 runs. “We wanted to see the last match at Mohali but due to visa issues, we got late for that match. We had also visited Chandigarh earlier to see the 2011 World Cup semi-final match. We like Chandigarh and the Mohali stadium. Even though Pakistan lost the match, we enjoyed seeing the batting of Rashid and the way Wahab Riaz bowled. My daughter Huda Jawed wanted to see Afridi bat perhaps for the last time in his career and we are glad we could see that,” said Jawad Jhafoor, who came along with his wife Huma Masood from Islamabad to see the match.
Friends Shafuq and Rehman, who belong to Srinagar and Gulmarg, too, had come to see the match, and watching Afridi bat made their long wait to enter the stadium worth it.
“We are huge fans of Shahid Afridi and we often talk about his batting style when we play at Srinagar grounds. We will miss him playing at the international level. Most of us have come to see the Pakistan team play and we are huge fans of their cricket team,” said Shafuq.